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The Black Star open pit mine at Mt Isa in northern Queenland is an important part of Glencore Xstrata's Mount Isa Mines (MIM) mining operations. Mt Isa is a thriving outback Queensland city located 2,000 kilometres north west of Brisbane,1,000 kilometres west of Townsville and 1,600 kilometres east of Alice Springs and Darwin. The Mt Isa Mines mining operation, of which the Black Star mine belongs, is one of the largest mining operations in the world.

Black Star Mine Commenced Production in 2005

The Black Star mine began operations in early 2005 with an initial reserve of 25 million tonnes and the ability of producing 2.3 million tonnes a year. In 2010, Xstrata Zinc, a fully owned subsidiary of Glencore Xstrata announced plans to expand its operations at the Black Star mine that would extend its life of mine to 2016 at its then current rate of production.

Copper and Gold Mined at the Black Star Mine

The copper and gold bearing ore mined from the Black Star open cut mine is first crushed in a Gyratory crusher before being ground in a SAG-ball milll to make it ready to be processed in a flotation facility where it is turned into a copper and gold concentrate. The concentrate is then taken by road transport into Mt Isa where it is smelted. Excess production is taken to Townsville from where it is shipped out to third party smelters.

Development of other copper based orebodies and improvements made to MIM's Townsville refinery in 1974 considerably boosted the company's copper production. The following years also witnessed many new technologies being introduced which revolutionised copper mining and smelting throughout the world.

Glencore Xstrata Acquire MIM in 2013

Glencore Xstrata acquired the Mt Isa Mine operations in May 2013 and employs over 20 percent of the total Mt Isa population. The mining complex is also the largest zinc concentrate source of all of Glencore Xstrata's world wide mining businesses, as it is one of the largest zinc mines in the world having a total of 650 million tonnes of zinc resources as at December 2011.

The Glencore Xstrata zinc resource is held in the Lady Loretta and George Fisher underground mines as well as the Handlebar Hill and Black Star open cut mines. The company also operates its own zinc – lead concentrator and filter facility, its own lead smelter and all the necessary supporting services. As production from the Mt Isa, lead – zinc underground mine began to decline in 2004, Mt Isa Mines once again commenced mining of the Black Star open cut mine. It was at this site where some of Mount Isa Mines earliest mining operations were initially carried out. The recommencing of mining at the Black Star open cut maintained the feed rate for the company's lead – zinc concentrator.

Mount Isa Open Pit Project Put on Hold by Glencore Xstrata

In May, 2013, soon after the merger of Glencore with Xstrata, it was announced that work on the Mt Isa Open Pit project, that involved further expansion of the Black Star pit, was to cease immediately. The Mt Isa open pit project was being proposed to come online following the closure of the copper smelter in 2016. The plan being to extend the Black Star pit and a smaller pit near the smelter site. However, the project remains an option for future development of Mount Isa mines.

Note- GlencoreXstrata was formed following a merger of Glencore International and Xstrata, the merger was completed in May 2013. But a decision was made by the Company's shareholders during the annual general meeting and the announcement was made in May 2014 that Glencore will drop Xstrata and be simply known as Glencore.


Glencore dates back to 1974 as Marc Rich & Co, focused on minerals, metals and crude oil. In the 1980's Glencore added coal to their portfolio. Glencore is one of the worlds largest natural resource companies with more than 90 offices in over 50 countries, over 150 mining and metallurgical more


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