1 December 2011
to the Legislative Council
GOLD MINE CLOSURE
FINCH (Rosevears) - I
referred to the announcement of the closure of the Beaconsfield gold
mine in my special interest speech earlier. The announcement was not
a total shock. In fact, it was something of a surprise when the mine
was reopened in 1996 after a long history of flooding. The mine
originally started as long ago as 134 years. You could say that the
Beaconsfield mine was running on borrowed time, but helped recently
by a near-record gold price. After the fatal rock fall in May 2006,
mining became more expensive with the use of robots. It is a very
deep mine, mining is now down to 1 210 metres below the surface and
the gold at that level is running out. Going deeper would be
unprofitable, even at the present gold price, so unless there is
another steep rise in the price the mine will close at the end of
June next year.
CEO of BCD Resources NL, Peter Thompson, has promised that all
employees will receive their entitlements. There are 103 full-time
workers, 16 casuals and 32 contractors. Unlike many Australian mines
these days, Beaconsfield is a community mine. Most of its workers
live in Launceston or the Tamar Valley instead of them flying in and
out. The Beaconsfield mine has been closed before for an extensive
period so it can still be reactivated in the future, especially if
more deposits are discovered nearby. The processing plant, which is
valued at $60 million, is likely to be sold on the mainland.
is understandable concern in the Beaconsfield community but it is not
all doom and gloom. It is a very resilient community in a region with
many opportunities. The West Tamar mayor, Barry Easther, is upbeat
but Brant Webb, who was trapped underground with his fellow worker,
Todd Russell, in May 2006, says there will be a big impact on the
community. He says it will have an impact on every aspect of the
town. Brant Webb was quoted in this morning's Mercury
newspaper saying that skilled workers would be forced to go to
Western Australia for work. To quote him:
blokes who are working there are going to be uprooting and leaving.
We are going to have a lot of empty houses.'
is what Brant Webb was reported as saying. However, a local butcher,
Tony Anderson, was quoted in the same article saying that
Beaconsfield survived before the mine was reopened in 1996 and it
could also survive afterwards. He said many of the mine employees
lived in Launceston or in the wider area beyond Beaconsfield so the
impact on the town would be lessened.
shocks such as mine and other industry closures are a fact of life.
The solution for Tasmania, as elsewhere, is diversification and
fortunately there is a lot of that in my electorate. The wine
industry is thriving and innovating. There are many viable small
businesses and even some manufacturing. The tourism industry on the
West Tamar can only grow, particularly with the solid push at the
moment by the West Tamar Chamber of Commerce. The West Tamar's
biggest asset is its people - well-educated, hardworking and with a
deeply-imbedded community spirit. They will cope with the closure of
the Beaconsfield mine.
Council adjourned at 7 p.m.