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Tara Mines: Workers vote 2:1 to back deal as company promises to 'begin process of re-opening'

The mines have been closed since last July.

WORKERS AT THE Tara Mines have voted to accept the deal to reopen the Co Meath mine, which has been closed since last July.

Members of the Tara Mines Groups of Unions – made up of the Siptu, Connect and Unite trade unions – voted to accept the proposals that had been agreed at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The unions voted by a margin of by 67% to 33% in favour of accepting the proposals.

“The work of the Tara Mines GOU will now focus on ensuring the Government makes good on commitments it has provided concerning changes to support the future operation of the mine,” Siptu Sector Organiser John Regan said in a statement.

These include changes to how royalties are calculated, and the provision of energy subsidies and concessions in relation to the social welfare supports that the laid-off workforce will continue to require until the mine returns to full operation. 

Unite Regional Officer, Brian Hewitt, said:

“Overall we believe this a positive day for Tara Mines, our members and the surrounding communities. Tara Mines is a very important resource extraction facility which is key to zinc and other metal production not only in Ireland but wider within Europe and globally.”

Gunnar Nyström, the Tara Mines general manager said: 

“I am pleased that the agreement has been accepted. The last number of months have been very difficult for our employees, their families and the wider community. I would like to thank our employees for their patience during this difficult period.

“The result of the ballot is welcome and will enable us to move forward.

We will now begin the process of re-opening and employees will commence their return to work on a phased basis. We will communicate next steps with our employees in the coming weeks. We look forward to welcoming them back to work.

Swedish parent company Boliden announced the temporary closure of the facility last June, and the closure took effect in July.

This resulted in around 650 workers being temporarily laid off.

Boliden said it made this decision due to “operational challenges” including a “decline in the price of zinc, high energy prices, and general cost inflation”.

While there will be redundancies,  SIPTU’s John Regan previously told TheJournal said that the “production side of mining ran at 2.6 million tonnes a year, but that’s now reduced to 1.8 million”.

“The manpower numbers have to reflect the drop in tonnage and output and production requirements,” he said.

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Peter Burke also welcomed the acceptance by workers of the deal, saying the Government is “committed to exploring the possibility of strategic supports to incentivise longer term investment by Boliden in Tara Mines”.

The company said the mines will now reopen on a phased basis.

With reporting from Diarmuid Pepper 

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