Hundreds of workers at Tasmania's Mt Lyell copper mine are being warned it could stay shut for months after the recent deaths of three of their colleagues.
Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) says it will take weeks for engineering consultants to finish their assessment, and longer for any changes to be made.
General manger Scot Clyde said the mine’s 320 employees remained on full pay as they completed maintenance work and essential services.
“However, there was a limit to how much work was available and how long the mine would be able to sustain this,” a CMT statement said.
“CMT was therefore holding discussions … about what might be done to try to minimise the financial impact on employees in the event of a prolonged mine shut down.”
Temporary redeployment within Australia and overseas and the use of leave were options being examined, Mr Clyde said.
“We realise that people want some clarity about the future but unfortunately this takes time and as yet we do not have the answers,” his statement said.
“It will be some weeks before we get advice and have a clear view of the way forward.
“If we are able to find a way to safely re-commence ore production, it may take some time to develop and implement the necessary changes and modifications that may be required.”
The mine, at Queenstown on Tasmania’s west coast, ceased operations when 53-year-old Michael Welsh died in a mud rush last month.
It followed the deaths in December of maintenance workers Craig Gleeson and Alistair Lucas, who fell from a platform in the main shaft.