Tasmania’s mothballed Avebury nickel mine could again be a major employer under a new owner or in a fresh partnership with its current operators.
The mine was shut down two years ago with the loss of 189 jobs, but owner MMG has started a formal expressions of interest process for the mine. This is expected to be finished by the end of the year when Avebury’s future will be decided.
MMG, which also operates the Rosebery zinc mine, said it had received some informal inquiries from potential buyers and partners.
The company has also been internally reviewing the operation to see whether it is feasible to reopen the mine in light of current nickel prices.
The mine, just outside Zeehan, was the first mine to be developed in Tasmania this century.
After an impressive start in 2006, it was put on care and maintenance in February 2009 when nickel prices plummeted.
Just six workers from the Rosebery operation keep Avebury in care and maintenance mode.
$852 million in development
Nickel prices are still far lower than they were when Allegiance Mining developed the $852 million mine in 2006.
But MMG hopes a review of the mine, including a new exploration result and long-term commodity price forecasting will shore up its future.
The company will continue to develop a restart plan as it waits for potential investors.
“We believe this [expressions of interest] process will be a valuable further input toward restarting the mine as soon as possible,” said MMG Rosebery and Avebury general manager John Lamb.
He said MMG understood the mine’s importance to the West Coast of Tasmania.