STAWELL Gold Mines employees have walked out of a meeting with contractors at the Stawell Clay Target Club after more than 140 jobs were made redundant.
Stawell Gold Mines staff and employees were unable to comment to the media.
STAWELL Gold Mines will make about 150 people redundant as it moves to cease mining operations.
The company ceased underground mining on Tuesday.
During the care and maintenance phase underground drilling for exploration will continue, the mill and pumps will be kept in operational condition to ensure the possibility of a restart, and environmental monitoring will continue.
Kirkland Lake Gold’s Australian operations president Darren Hall said the decision to suspend operations and transition into a care and maintenance phase had not been made lightly; it had been under discussion for some years due to declining profitability.
“In 2009 Stawell Gold Mines produced more than 86,000 ounces of gold compared with just over 32,000 ounces this year,” he said.
Mr Hall said since 2012, Stawell Gold Mines had informed the community that it would be transitioning due to declining gold production.
“That transition started with a restructure of operations and a major downsizing of the workforce,” he said.
“Through the resourcefulness of our employees we have managed to continue operations for the past four years but the mine can simply no longer produce enough gold to warrant the continuation of mining,” he said.
Stawell Gold Mine will retain a team of between 15 and 20 people to maintain the site, monitor the environment and continue exploration.
“Unfortunately between 140 and 150 positions will be made redundant,” he said.
Stawell Gold Mines general manager Troy Cole said the site was being maintained in the hope that it would reopen.
“There have been some promising results during initial exploration of the Aurora B site which is on the east flank of the existing Magdala Mine,” he said.
“However, we need time to further our understanding of the potential on the east flank.
“It is our hope that the Big Hill open cut mine will be the next project to start.
“We remain in consultation with the regulatory authorities to establish an assessment process for the project.”
Mr Cole said it was important to keep the mine in operational condition and that environmental monitoring was maintained.
At company briefings today, Mr Cole assured employees they would receive their full entitlements and would be provided with support services including financial advice, resume writing and outplacement support.
Stawell Gold Mines has been operating in the town for 35 years.
“We understand suspending underground operations and the subsequent loss of employment opportunities will have an economic impact on Stawell and the surrounding region and we will work with authorities to mitigate this impact where possible,” Mr Cole said.
“Since the announcement in 2012 that resources were declining we have been working with state and local governments in preparation for the transition even while we were exploring other options.”
Mr Cole said Stawell Gold Mines was in discussions with stakeholders such as the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory and Nectar Farms in a bid to find a way to continue to support these projects.
“Our existing sponsorship agreements will be honoured. We will review all community programs on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
“Stawell Gold Mines is still part of the community and will continue to support these projects where able.
“Suspending operations is not our desired outcome but, quite simply, the mine is no longer sustainable.”