Jobs saved as Tara Mines gets new lease deal
HUNDREDS of jobs are safe after Tara Mines secured a 10-year extension to its operations.
The 1km deep mine – the largest lead and zinc mine in Europe – employs 650 people at its base in Navan, Co Meath.
Those jobs have now been secured for up to a decade after the government hammered out a fresh deal with the mine's owner, Swedish firm Boliden, in relation to leases at the site.
The new agreement will enable a substantial underground extension to the mine, prolonging its life. Stefan Romedahl, the recently appointed general manager of Boliden Tara Mines, said that the company was "pleased" that negotiations for the extension of leases have been concluded.
"A stable platform has been established and we need to continue to reduce costs in order to make Tara profitable," he said.
The latest publicly available financial accounts for the Tara operation show that it made a €7.5m profit last year, down from €20.7m in 2011, despite revenue rising 2.3pc to €194.5m.
Staff at the mine had been placed on protective notice earlier this year as the firm tried to cut costs.
In March, there was an agreement reached that will result in some early retirements, a cut a reduction of overtime costs, and a €110m investment in the plant.
The company has also said that current reserves of ore at the mine indicate that it has a mining life that could extend to 2019.
"While the outlook for the mine's future remains positive," the accounts noted, "current economic and market conditions requires the group to remain focused on productivity improvements and control of its cost base."
Boliden is also investigating areas close to the existing Tara mine to see if it can identify any additional ore reserves that it can extract.
"It is hoped that Boliden Tara Mines will be able to take full advantage of the new 10-year leases," said Minister of State for Natural Resources, Fergus O'Dowd at the mine yesterday.
"exploration is continuing around the mine to identify further mineral resources that we hope will become mineable ore reserves," he said. "Boliden and other companies are also carrying out exploration elsewhere across the country."
"The challenges that we and the sector as a whole face relate primarily to the costs associated with developing new deposits," said Boliden president and chief executive, Lennart Evrell in Sweden.
"The ores in the world's mines are becoming increasingly complex, low-grade, and deep-seated, while at the same time, environmental requirements are becoming increasingly stringent."