The town of Glenden from above.
The town of Glenden from above.

The fight to save mining ghost town from bulldozers

RESIDENTS of a struggling mining town fear their community will soon disappear unless the State Government steps in to save it.

The town of Glenden, located 110km southwest of Mackay, was designed and built by Mount Isa Mines in the 1980s as a township for workers at the nearby Newlands coal mine.

Mining giant Glencore is now considered to be the town's "owner" since it acquired the mine in 2003.

But with that mine scheduled to end operations in 2023, Glenden's population has dwindled.

The Glenden General Store is one of the last remaining businesses in town and owner Milissa Payne said the only thing keeping the township alive was Adani's nearby Carmichael Rail Project.

"It is extremely quiet. All the businesses have closed down; I'm the last man standing in the shopping centre," she said.

"Before the Adani-Martinus project came along, I was looking at closing down."

Ms Payne describes herself as the "longest serving resident of Glenden".

Glenden business owner Milissa Payne. Picture: John Andersen
Glenden business owner Milissa Payne. Picture: John Andersen

Her family moved to the town in 1982 when she was just a child.

After 38 years in the mining community, she fears her hometown will be destroyed when the mine shuts.

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"Personally, I would like to see the State Government step in and make Glencore sell some of their housing off," Ms Payne said.

"Glencore want to bulldoze the town because that's in their contract.

"When they are finished mining, they have to be rehabilitate it and hand the land back."

Glencore is not the only mining company operating in the area.

The QCoal Group-owned Byerwen coal mine opened 20km west of Glenden last year.

But the Daily Mercury understands all of its workers are drive-in, drive-out.

Burdekin MP Dale Last said there had been some "argy bargy" between Glencore and QCoal over the transfer and purchase of the town's business centre, infrastructure and housing.

Mr Last has been a staunch advocate of saving the town in recent years.

Burdekin MP Dale Last. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Burdekin MP Dale Last. Picture: Shae Beplate.

He has organised a meeting with Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker, State Development Minister Kate Jones and Queensland's Co-Ordinator General next Tuesday to discuss Glenden's future.

"I'm seeking their assistance in securing the future of Glenden, resolving this issue about infrastructure and housing assets, and putting in place a plan for a smooth transition for that community," Mr Last said.

The Burdekin MP said it would be a shame if the "beautiful little mining town" was left to "wither on the vine".

"There are a number of mines operating and planned for that area going forward and it is important that Glenden's future is secured to provide the services and a base for these mines to operate from," Mr Last said.

"I'm passionate about my mining towns and the need for workers and their families to be living in those communities."

A State Government spokesman said it was working with Isaac Regional Council to address the future planning of Glenden.

Newlands mine near Glenden, Bowen Basin, is owned by Glencore
Newlands mine near Glenden, Bowen Basin, is owned by Glencore

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"(This includes) planning for growth in the instance local economic and employment circumstances change," he said.

"In addition, the government is working with the Greater Whitsunday Alliance to collaborate on and help realise the economic opportunities outlined in the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday Region Economic Development Review, 2018-2022: A Strategy for Regional Prosperity."

Ms Payne said she refused to leave the area where she had made a life for herself.

"I did make it my home, I buried by daughter and got married here," she said.

"Where do I go to? How do I get to my daughter's gravesite?

"How unfair is it that after 30 years they tell me I'm not allowed to be here anymore when they shut this mine down."

The Daily Mercury contacted Glencore and QCoal for comment.