Woodie Woodie manganese mine in Pilbara to close with loss of almost 400 jobs
Workers at the open cut Woodie Woodie manganese mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara have been told the mine will be mothballed next month.
Mine owner and operator Consolidated Minerals Australia (ConsMin) said it was placing the project on care and maintenance, with around 330 direct employees and 50 contractors affected.
ConsMin said the suspension was a result of the severe downturn in the global commodity sector, and in particular the current record low price for manganese ore, which is used to make steel.
The manganese price has taken a beating in past two years.
In 2014 it was trading about $US5 per dry metric tonne unit (dmtu), equalling about $US220 a tonne for 44 per cent ore.
However since January 2015 it has dropped about 60 per cent, from around $US4.18 dmtu to $US1.80.
ConsMin said they had no choice other than to close the Woodie Woodie mine, 400 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland.
“Despite the relentless efforts and substantial achievements of our leadership group, our employees and our suppliers to transform Woodie Woodie into a globally competitive operation which we can all be proud of, the price for manganese ore is now so low that continuing to operate is no longer an option,” ConsMin managing director Australia Paul Muller said.
The Woodie Woodie mine operates with a fly-in, fly-out workforce from Perth.
ConsMin intends to maintain around 15 workers in Perth and 15 onsite, to allow operations to restart at short notice when the price of manganese recovers.
Mr Muller said all employees would receive full redundancy entitlements and support from the company.
The falling commodity price also pushed Northern Territory miner OM Manganese to mothball its Bootu Creek mine north of Tennant Creek late last year, with the loss of around 200 jobs.