Ivernia expects to restart Australian lead mine next year

(Reuters) - Canadian miner Ivernia Inc IVW.TO said it expects to restart production its lead mine in Western Australia in the second quarter of 2013, nearly two years after it suspended operations on concerns about lead contamination.

The company plans to hire up to 200 employees at the Magellan mine, with the recruits joining in the first quarter of 2013, Ivernia Chief Financial Officer Brent Omland told Reuters.

Ivernia halted operations and cut 195 of 235 jobs at its flagship mine in April last year after lead was detected in mud samples taken from shipping containers coming from the mine.

The company’s shares have fallen 76 percent since then.

Ivernia plans to restart operations in stages, with full production expected by the end of 2013, the company said.

The company is targeting average production of 85,000 metric tonnes (93,695 EDT) of contained lead per year, or slightly over 7,000 tonnes per month, from the mine, Omland said.

Ivernia sold 46,200 tonnes of lead metal in concentrate form in 2010 from the operation, which it describes as the world’s largest lead carbonate mine.

There have been a number of work stoppages at the mine over the years due to environmental concerns.

Worries about lead poisoning has led to many mine closures across the world in recent years and some countries have restricted the use of the metal in paints and cosmetics.

The government of Western Australia approved the transportation and operating conditions for the mine in July.

Shares of the company rose 11 percent to 10.5 Canadian cents in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Reporting by Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Sriraj Kalluvila