New copper mine for Qld’s ‘energy transformation’

Savannah Meacham |

The Jericho lease means operations at the nearby Eloise copper mine (pictured) will be expanded.
The Jericho lease means operations at the nearby Eloise copper mine (pictured) will be expanded.

A new copper mine in Queensland’s far northwest has been approved for operations, paving the way for the state’s ambitious renewable target.

The Miles government announced on Friday a lease has been granted for the new Jericho copper mine near Cloncurry.

When operational, it is expected to increase production to more than 20,000 tonnes of copper and 10,000 ounces of gold annually.

The lease given to AIC Mines Limited means operations at the nearby Eloise copper mine will also be expanded.

“The ripple effects of this new project will resonate far beyond the mine, boosting local and international copper supply for solar, wind and battery energy manufacturing, including Mt Isa’s copper smelter,” Resources Minister Scott Stewart said in a statement.

The new mining operations will ramp up the number of jobs and local trade in the region.

“The project will employ 150 people over a 24-month construction period and then 100 new permanent employees when in production,” AIC Mines managing director Aaron Colleran said.

It comes as Queensland sets its sights on a renewable future, legislating an ambitious target of a 75 per cent emissions reduction by 2035 and net zero by 2050 earlier this year.

Copper is a highly conductive material and will be used in renewable energy systems to generate power from solar, hydro, thermal and wind systems.

“The world needs more copper as we transition away from fossil fuels and AIC Mines is focused on delivering on that demand,” Mr Colleran said.

Mr Stewart said additional copper mining power is key to the state’s renewable transformation.

“Critical minerals like copper are key to delivering our renewable energy future,” he said.

The new project will tide over the impacts of the closure of Glencore’s Mt Isa copper mining operations in late 2025, although smelting and refining will continue at the site.

The mine has been operational since 1924 and employs thousands of people. 

But it is closing as it has reached the end of its life with low ore grades of remaining minerals at the site.