Queensland copper producer CuDeco has been forced to suspend operations at its Rocklands copper mine after “a number of issues” were identified with the processing plant.

CuDeco (ASX:CDU) was ordered by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines to halt operations following an investigation.

The process plant will remain idle pending further review of the mine’s site safety and health management system to ensure it complies with the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulations 2017, CuDeco said.

Chairman Peter Hutchison was on his way to the site at Cloncurry this morning, Stockhead was told.

CuDeco is working with the Queensland government to complete the review of Rocklands’ safety and health management system “as quickly as possible”, Mr Hutchison told investors today.

“This is extremely disappointing given our recent progress towards achieving nameplate production at our plant, with November set to be a record month at our Cloncurry mine.

“We will work closely with our approximately 300 employees and contractors to resolve these issues and avoid any repetition as we work together towards delivering a safe and productive operation for the benefit of all.”

CuDeco has faced a number of hurdles in recent times. Last week, the company settled a court battle with former chief Wayne McCrae over alleged unpaid termination entitlements. CuDeco agreed to fork out $650,000, including legal costs.

October was a difficult month for the Rocklands copper mine, which had to undergo a long, unplanned shutdown due to issues with the ball mill that affected the copper grades. Mr Hutchison said earlier in November the problems were “gradually being resolved” and production was just under nameplate.

The executive conceded at this week’s AGM that CuDeco “can and must do better” and that he “sincerely regrets the trials and tribulations” the company has experienced with its Rocklands mine.

“Commissioning is never entirely smooth sailing and Rocklands was no exception, but if we look back from the last AGM I am pleased to say that the gains of 2017 significantly exceeded those of 2016, albeit with some important lessons learnt along the way,” Mr Hutchison said.

CuDeco had around $7.3 million cash in the bank and access to loans of $85.8 million at the end of the September quarter. The company estimated it would have a cash burn of about $57.7 million in the current quarter.