Tara Mines owner aims to reopen by second quarter of next year

Boliden said it intends to present in January a rescue plan for the reopening of the Meath mine

The owner of Tara Mines has told staff it aims to reopen the mine near Navan in Co Meath in the second quarter of next year, having closed the facility last July with the temporary lay-off of 650 workers. Swedish owner Boliden closed the zinc mine due to factors including a fall in zinc prices and increased energy costs.

On Thursday Boliden Tara Mines general manager Gunnar Nyström said the company was “determined to bring about a sustainable reopening of the mine as soon as possible”. However, he said the external backdrop “remains very challenging” due to current zinc prices and the current cost of energy. He also highlighted operational challenges.

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Boliden wrote to staff on Thursday to say that before it could reopen the mine it must address operational challenges through a rescue plan which it intends to present to unions in January. “It is a very significant move for us to attempt to do this against the current external market backdrop, and the rescue plan must ensure an acceptable return on investment for shareholders, but the Boliden Group has agreed to support us in this objective,” said Mr Nyström.

The company said if it reaches agreement with unions regarding proposals in the plan by the first week in February it will aim to reopen the mine in the second quarter of 2024, “assuming no significant deterioration in market conditions”.


Boliden also said that it was willing to re-engage with unions at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

SIPTU, which represents about two-thirds of temporarily laid off staff, cautiously welcomed the reopening proposal. However, John Regan, SIPTU sector organiser, cautioned that if it took seven months before a full reopening, as it did in 2001 the last time the mine was closed, it would be January 2025 before all employees returned to work – a timeline which “would not be acceptable”.

SIPTU acknowledged Boliden’s willingness to return to the WRC. However, Mr Regan noted that the company had terminated a number of workers’ employments in recent days and hired a contractor without consulting unions, both issues which have undermined trust and which would need to be resolved before returning to WRC conciliation services.

The Group of Unions at Tara Mines – SIPTU, Connect, and Unite – are proceeding with a Section 20 (1) referral to the Labour Court, with a hearing on December 18th this year.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney welcomed the announcement by Tara Mines, adding that the Government was “committed to providing all possible assistance to facilitate an early reopening at Tara”. He said Tara Mines has been on board as a client with Enterprise Ireland, who are “actively engaging” with the company.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.