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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Australasia: August 1st 2003


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:: Port Kembla Copper Smelter to Close

Japan's Furukawa has pulled the plug on its Port Kembla copper smelting subsidiary in New South Wales, announcing the plant will be closed by the end of next month with the loss of 280 jobs.

The smelter produced 60,000 tonnes of refined copper in its last fiscal year compared with the 120,000tpa of cathodes it considered a long-term viable output.

Furukawa said the decision reflects the dim prospects for a significant recovery in copper prices, Kyodo News reported.

Treatment and refining charges paid to smelters by miners to refine copper concentrate are at record lows due to a tight supply of copper concentrate.

The European Commission is currently investigating charges of collusion among copper concentrate producers after complaints from smelters about the concentrate shortage.

Port Kembla, owned by Furukawa (71.44%), Nettetsu Mining (20%), Nissho Iwai Mining (5.45%) and Itochu Corp (3.11%), reportedly sources concentrate from Newcrest, Ok Tedi Mining and PT Freeport.

Kyodo News quoted Furukawa officials as saying the company planned to look for a possible buyer of Port Kembla Copper, but could liquidate if it fails to find a buyer within a year.




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