Cloncurry is laying claim to being Queensland’s Kalgoorlie and the council says it’s now time for the north Queensland centre to have its own ‘Diggers and Dealers’-type mining conference.

The concept has a big-name backer.

Diggers and Dealers is renown internationally as a base where junior miners sell their story particularly to financiers who come from the east coast of Australia and south east Asian centres including Singapore and Hong Kong.

Photo: Ernest Henry Mine north of Cloncurry

There is arguably as much mining activity and just as much mining history in the province about 800 kilometres west from Townsville as in the gilded town east of Perth in Western Australia.

Around 90 percent of the Cloncurry shire’s 47,971 square kilometres is covered by 461 exploration and 205 mining permits said Mayor Greg Campbell.

The leases cover precious and base metals, uranium and rare earths and phosphate and critical minerals.

It’s big business. Evolution mining last year bought the remaining stake in Ernest Henry mine just north of the town from Glencore for $1billion and Harmony Gold recently bought the Eva lease from Canadian Miner Copper Mountain for around $230million.

The council was building off the success of its logistics conference held last year to launch a new forum promoting mining said Cr Campbell.

It has the backing of former Fortescue Metals Group CEO Nev Power, he said.

Mr Power grew up on Bushy Park station near Duchess and made his way up from a fitter and turner to head Mount Isa Mines’ gold division before taking the role as general manager for Oaky Creek Colliery among other senior positions in a varied career. 

“Later this year in September, we’re planning a regional mining conference to grow from the success of the Road and Rail Forum last year” Cr Campbell said.

“And just looking through the information that we’ve got on the exploration permits and the mining permits, we know we’ve got the majors in the Shire, be that Evolution, or Harmony Gold.

“There’re so many juniors that are listed that are exploring or mining in their own right, and we want to give them the opportunity to showcase themselves and talk about themselves, bring investors to town, bring analysts to the area so these companies can showcase what they’ve got in the area. 

“So, they don’t necessarily have to go to WA to diggers and Dealers to show off their companies. They can do it in their own backyard.”

Attracting people to town

Cloncurry has always been a centre for mining activity and Cr Campbell said he wanted to see it become more established as a dormitory town for the industry.

“It’s always a challenge to attract people to move to the area with the skills that we need, which continues to actually make these projects worthwhile,” he sad.

“The jobs that we support locally, and we’re always pushing mining companies and government as well as private industry to base as many people as they can in our town. 

“We know that we can’t house them all. There’s probably a couple of thousand mine workers that are FIFO every night in the Shire, but if we can cherry pick them, the young families and the young couples, that’s what we’re looking for. 

“But that’s still thousands of jobs that are going back to Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, that are working in Shire.”