Shock twist for Queensland outback town that was set to be demolished

Residents were told they'd have to leave, but a last-minute backflip may have just answered their prayers.

Hundreds of residents living in a remote Queensland mining community have been thrown a lifeline from the state government ahead of looming plans to completely demolish the tiny town.

Over 300 homes in Glenden — about 160 kilometres inland from Mackay — were set to be bulldozed as miner Glencore ceases operations in Central Queensland. The company is currently responsible for maintenance of the privately-owned township and was contractually obliged to "remove" it once it had wrapped up in the area.

The micro town, which predominately homes resource workers, was due to be completely flattened as part of the "rehabilitation process" at Glencore’s Newlands Mine.

A view of the town of Glenden, in regional Queensland, is seen from above.
The town of just 600 people was established in 1982. Source: Isaac Regional Council.

Having been established in 1982 by Mount Isa Mines, Glencore bought the town in 2013. Local residents — of which there are a total of 600 — slammed the decision to have the community bulldozed.

Many had lived and worked in the area since it opened four decades ago.

Residents had hoped a new mine would save the town

Glencore, which has already ceased production, plans to completely remove the remaining infrastructure within the next few years, leaving locals in the lurch. Residents had hoped that a new mine would be put forward to fill the vacancy, though so far no such plans have been made.

A look at the town of Glenden, in remote Central Queensland, is seen on a map.
The town was due to be bulldozed, but after a last-minute intercept from the Queensland premier, will continue moving forward. Source: Google Maps.

Addressing criticism of the plans, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed she would intercept and save the community.

"Our government will provide certainty for the future of the township of Glenden," Ms Palaszczuk said at the Queensland Bush Summit 2023 in Rockhampton, the ABC reported. "The end of the life of one mine does not mean the end of the life of others. We will introduce legislation next week to give all parties certainty in Glenden."

Glenden locals left in tears

It's unknown how the government plans to operate the township, or whether another mine will be installed in the area to take over the vacancy left by Glencore. The premier said those discussions will take place when parliament resumes on August 2022.

The front of the modern-looking homes.
Local residents — of which there are a total of 600 — slammed the decision to have the community bulldozed. Source: ABC Tropical North/Melissa Maddison

Ms Palaszczuk said that before the announcement she spoke with Glenden locals, including Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker, who was left in "tears" on hearing the news.

"It's really touched everyone, 400 people there who want to stay there," Ms Palaszcuk said. "The future of that town will continue – we see a very bright future there."

Some residents suggested the company behind the proposed Byerwen Mine, QCoal, could fill Glencore's shoes, but owners have since confirmed they plan to construct an "onsite mining camp" rather than housing workers in Glenden.

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