100 mine jobs to go

Nigel Adlam
NT News

ABOUT 100 workers are to be laid off this morning after a mining company went into administration.

Sydney-based accountants will now try to work out a strategy for the firm to survive or a plan to pay its creditors.

Territory Resources ceased trading on the stock exchange after running out of money to operate the Brown's project copper mine near Batchelor, 110km south of Darwin.

The company was given a $72 million cash injection by Chinese interests in September after recording a loss of $13.2 million last financial year.

Many of the miners gathered at the Rum Jungle Tavern last night.

One said: "We feared this was coming. We're very annoyed about it."

All the workers are believed to have been on Australian Work Agreements, which means they are not entitled to any redund- ancy payments.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson said on Wednesday he hoped the mine would survive.

Treasurer Delia Lawrie yesterday said Compass was a victim of the global economic slowdown.

She said there was a "quiet hope" that the Brown's project would not shut permanently.

Ms Lawrie said the "underlying fundamentals" of the Territory mining industry were sound.

NT Resources Council Scott Perkins said it was difficult to predict if any other mining operations would get into financial trouble.

"But the scale and speed of the economic downturn means that any mining company with weaknesses in its balance sheet will be nervous," he said.

Opposition Leader Terry Mills said the NT Government should give small businesses in places such as Batchelor low-interest or no-interest loans to tide them over until the Inpex project kicks in.

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