A row has broken out ‘down under’ after Glencore warned it could cease investment and shut its copper operations in Australia because of spiralling energy costs.
The FTSE 100 mining group said it would stop putting money into its Mount Isa smelter and Townsville refinery if it could not guarantee “secure, affordable and reliable energy”.
The comments, in a letter to Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, which was copied to Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, were leaked to Australian media.
The Swiss commodities giant complained that the price of power has soared 100pc in three years, making its operations in Queensland – which run 24 hours a day – increasingly expensive.
Analysts suggested that Glencore’s Queensland operations had become dependent on gas, which has rocketed in price, and would need to look at renewable energy options.
A Glencore spokesman said: “Glencore has been open and transparent with State and Federal Government about a range of cost factors currently impacting our copper operations in Queensland.”
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said: “We both have an interest in protecting jobs and investments in North West Queensland.”
Last week the commodities giant admitted its agriculture arm had expressed an interest in taking over US grain trader Bunge, which is listed in New York. Bunge rebuffed its initial approach.