Can re-opening the only pub in town become part of a mine’s social licence to operate?
In the case of Consolidated Tin Mines it just may go a long way towards building a reputation for community-mindedness in the regional North Queensland town of Mount Garnet.
The company bought the Mount Garnet Hotel this year from the mortgagee in possession and converted the building to supplement its regional workforce accommodation.
It will be providing meals and drinks for employees and has taken over the pub’s liquor licence as part of the purchase.
Managing director Ralph De Lacey said the mining company was planning to reopen the building to the general public before Christmas.
“It is a landmark in the town. It has a lot of character and history, so it would be good to restart it,” Mr De Lacey said.
“It’s never going to be distraction to us. If we can open it to the public and there are no problems we will do it, otherwise we won’t – we will just keep it for our own staff.
“But local people are looking forward to seeing it open and so am I.”
Consolidated Tin Mines has refurbished the building to provide 35 rooms for workforce accommodation in addition to its 60-room camp at the Surveyor mine site.
Mr De Lacey said the company would be providing meals and drinks for employees and had taken on the licence as part of the purchase.
Local resident Pat Wilson said many people in town were waiting for the pub to reopen.
“They’re not at that stage yet – but I think people will be very happy to see it open again, not because we’re drinkers but because normally the hotel is the social hub of the town,” she said.
“It’s been closed for two years nearly and we miss it.”
Local contractor Wayne Fratar, who says he has lived in Mount Garnet ‘on and off’ for 40 years, welcomed the boost to local employment from the restarted Consolidated Tin Mines operations.
And he said it would be absolutely fabulous if they were able to reopen the Mount Garnet Hotel to the public.
“We haven’t got a pub so you have to drive about 60km to go and get a carton of grog,” he said.
He said it was a massive blow for the rural community to lose the focal point offered by a local hotel.
As well as the fact many locals ‘don’t mind a drop’, Mount Garnet Hotel acted as a work scene, where people used to go to find out what work was available around town, Mr Fratar said.