At the time of induction, Mount Isa Mines were part of the Xstrata group. In 2013, the company was acquired by Glencore
Established in January 1924, Mount Isa Mines has grown from humble and isolated beginnings to become one of the world’s largest underground mining operations, and a business that has made a significant contribution to the growth and economic prosperity of Queensland.
Lead ore was discovered at Mount Isa in 1923 by prospector John Campbell Miles. As word spread of his discovery, prospectors moved into the region, pegging out 118 leases by the end of 1923. It was engineer and entrepreneur William Corbould who consolidated the many mining leases on the field and established Mount Isa Mines in January 1924.
Difficulties such as isolation, flooding and low ore grades plagued the early years, and milling and smelter operations did not commence until May 1931. The mine survived due to William Corbould’s belief in the wealth of the ore body and ability to attract significant investment from European and America investors.
In the early years Mount Isa Mines faced hardship in developing the mine and transporting ore to port in Townsville. The first train pulled into Mount Isa in April 1929, and it was this line that went on to become the State’s most profitable, providing the state government with the capital to revitalise other rail lines throughout Queensland.
In 1937 the company made its first operating profit, however the first investor return of 20c per $2 share was not paid until July 1947.
The commencement of copper and lead production in parallel in 1953, and the post-war commodity price recovery of the 1950s heralded a massive expansion in Mount Isa Mines’ operations. By 1955 Mount Isa Mines had become the largest mining company in Australia and the nation’s largest single creator of export income.
The company’s growth and success over the years has been led by some of the most significant names in Australian mining, including Julius Kruttschnitt, Sir George Fisher, Sir James Foots and Sir Bruce Watson.
Today, the business operates two separate mining and processing streams, copper and zinc-lead-silver and has invested in environmental and operational developments.
Mount Isa Mines’ significance to Queensland was honoured in 2009 by the Premier of Queensland, Hon Anna Bligh, as the business to have made the most significant contribution to the State’s economy since Queensland’s separation from New South Wales in June 1859.