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Image: Metro Mining.

Metro Mining has moved into its planned wet season shutdown at the Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland earlier than usual.

The decision was made following the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on market conditions across the aluminium supply chain.

Metro stated that travel restrictions had hampered the company’s ability to finalise offtake contracts.

The company will cease all shipping in mid-September, with operations expected to recommence in April next year.

“We are extremely disappointed that despite a record performance from the teams on-site, and the efforts of our marketing team we have been unable to secure further sales that would have meant a very successful operating year for Metro,” company managing director Simon Finnis said.

“We live in very challenging times with many factors outside of our control. This decision has not been taken lightly and we will do all we can to assist our people and all stakeholders.”

However, Finnis is optimistic about a market recovery. According to Metro, China has seen a recovery across its aluminum supply chain. The aluminium and alumina prices are also also returning to near pre-COVID-19 levels.

Finnis said the Metro team would continue “as aggressively as ever” to secure additional sales for 2020 and the subsequent years.

Metro’s stage two expansion remains the core strategy for the long-term development of Bauxite Hills, but its execution will be subject to market conditions.