Despite the closure of Tara Mines, Europe’s largest zinc mine located in Navan, Co Meath, there is hope for its future. The general manager, Gunnar Nystrom, has confirmed that a rescue plan is currently being developed to address operational challenges and expedite the reopening process. However, there is no specific timeline in place yet. The closure of the mine in the summer was driven by a spike in energy costs and the lower global price for zinc, which made the operation financially unsustainable for Boliden, the Swedish owner of the mine.
While the closure has had a significant impact on workers and the local community, Boliden remains committed to supporting its employees. The support package has been extended to early 2024, providing some relief to the affected staff. The prolonged closure, however, comes at a hefty cost for Boliden, with an expense of €1 million per week to keep the mine mothballed.
The primary factor influencing the decision to reopen the mine is external market conditions. The zinc mining industry is highly cyclical, and fluctuations in zinc prices have a substantial impact on individual mining operations. Despite challenging market conditions, Tara Mines experienced a 7.5% increase in revenue in 2022, reaching €253 million. This growth was driven by a surge in zinc prices, despite a decline in production volumes.
Unfortunately, Tara Mines is not alone in facing these challenges. Other major zinc mines around the world, including those in Peru, Portugal, the US, and Australia, have also been placed under care and maintenance due to the decline in zinc prices and weakened demand resulting from sluggish construction activity.
The company is aware that the longer the mine stays closed, the more difficult it becomes to restart operations. However, Boliden remains dedicated to securing the long-term future of Tara Mines. The development and implementation of a rescue plan will play a crucial role in expediting the reopening process. While external market conditions ultimately influence the reopening, a successful rescue plan will provide the necessary foundation for the mine to resume operations.
1. What is the current status of Tara Mines?
Tara Mines, Europe’s largest zinc mine located in Co Meath, remains closed since its suspension in the summer. However, a rescue plan is being developed to address operational challenges and expedite the reopening process.
2. Why was the mine closed?
The closure of Tara Mines was prompted by a spike in energy costs and the lower global price for zinc, which made the operation financially unsustainable for the mine’s owner, Boliden.
3. What support is being provided to the affected staff?
Boliden has extended the employee support package until early 2024 to assist the workers during the closure period. However, the prolonged closure comes at a significant cost of €1 million per week for Boliden.
4. How are external market conditions affecting the reopening of the mine?
External market conditions, particularly zinc prices, heavily influence the reopening of Tara Mines. The zinc mining industry is cyclical, and fluctuations in prices impact individual mining operations.
5. Are other zinc mines facing similar challenges?
Yes, other major zinc mines around the world, including those in Peru, Portugal, the US, and Australia, have also been placed under care and maintenance due to declining zinc prices and weakened demand resulting from slow construction activity.