Boliden Aims to Resume Operations at Europe's Largest Zinc Mine
Boliden Aims to Resume Operations at Europe's Largest Zinc Mine

Boliden Aims to Resume Operations at Europe's Largest Zinc Mine

  • 14-Dec-2023 2:56 PM
  • Journalist: Shiba Teramoto

Boliden, the Swedish mining company, is gearing up for a significant development as it eyes the resumption of operations at its Tara zinc mine in Ireland. The plan involves initiating wage negotiations with approximately 650 employees at the Tara operation, with the goal of restarting production in the second quarter of 2024. This strategic move comes after the company placed its Tara operations on care and maintenance in June. The decision to halt operations was driven by negative cash flows, particularly influenced by a sharp decline in zinc prices, which hit a three-year low on June 1, 2023.

A successful restart of operations at Tara would not only have implications for Boliden but could also impact the global zinc market, as Tara mine stands as the largest zinc mine in Europe. The mine, which produced 198,000 tonnes of zinc concentrates in 2022, plays a significant role in the global supply chain for zinc, a metal widely used in galvanization processes.

Boliden's spokesman, Klas Nilsson, emphasized the need to address operational challenges at Tara Mines. Nilsson outlined the company's plan to resume wage negotiations and present a comprehensive plan to the unions in January. The objective is to reach an agreement with the unions, with an ambitious timeline to reopen the mine in the second quarter of 2024. However, the success of this timeline is contingent upon favorable market conditions and the absence of any significant deterioration.

The Tara zinc concentrates hold strategic importance as they serve as feedstock for Boliden's Odda zinc smelter in southern Norway. Boliden has ambitious plans for Odda, aiming to increase its production capacity from 200,000 tons to 350,000 tons in the second half of the upcoming year. The spokesperson, Nilsson, clarified that production in the new facilities at Odda is scheduled to commence during the second half of 2024, with a planned ramp-up period that will be communicated at a later stage.

The potential resumption of operations at Tara signifies a positive outlook for Boliden, especially in navigating the challenging market conditions experienced earlier. It also aligns with the broader industry trend, as analysts anticipate surpluses in refined zinc for the next year. Boliden's proactive approach to engage in negotiations and present a comprehensive plan reflects the company's commitment to addressing operational challenges and ensuring the mine's long-term viability.

As Boliden proceeds with its plans for Tara zinc mine, industry stakeholders, market analysts, and the global zinc market will closely monitor developments, particularly the outcome of wage negotiations and the feasibility of the proposed restart timeline. The Tara mine's contribution to the zinc supply chain and Boliden's overall strategic position in the market add significance to this unfolding story, shaping the trajectory of one of Europe's key zinc mining operations.

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