Blow to Monto econ­omy

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Ge­orge Smith ge­

MONTO has suf­fered an­other eco­nomic blow.

Bel­ridge last week an­nounced the clo­sure of its il­menite mine at Goondicum due to a fall in the price of the re­source.

The com­pany di­rectly em­ploys 35 peo­ple at Goondicum, many of whom re­side in and around Monto.

Di­rec­tor Mark McCauley said such a sig­nif­i­cant fall in price, when com­mis­sion­ing of the mine was still be­ing com­pleted, had left the com­pany with no choice but to tem­po­rar­ily close.

“We did have about a month of full pro­duc­tion but we couldn’t con­tinue at such low prices and keep pay­ing the bills,” Mr McCauley said.

“No doubt this is a big blow to the Monto com­mu­nity and we would like to think they don’t to­tally give up,” he said.

“We are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to restart but the mar­ket be­ing the mar­ket means it is not al­ways pos­si­ble.

“We have been talk­ing to cus­tomers and hope­fully some­thing can hap­pen but if pro­duc­tion does recom­mence then it should be in a ro­bust fash­ion.”

Mr McCauley said all em­ploy­ees had been given ap­pro­pri­ate no­tice and all en­ti­tle­ments had been paid out.

“We an­tic­i­pate no one will be out of pocket,” he said.

Deputy Pre­mier Jeff Seeney said he was dis­ap­pointed to hear the news and hoped to see it re­turn to the re­gion.

“The clo­sure of the Bel­ridge mine is dev­as­tat­ing for the Monto com­mu­nity,” Mr Seeney said.

“We ac­knowl­edge the con­tri­bu­tion it has made and hope it can re­open as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Monto Ratepay­ers and Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Lex Dow was equally dis­ap­pointed but said it em­pha­sised the need for the lo­cal econ­omy to di­ver­sify.

“This is not good for Monto, we hope the dol­lar falls enough for it to be vi­able again,” Mr Dow said.

The mine will cease op­er­a­tions this week.

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