Further jobs lost as tough times continue

June 05, 2014

Tough times continue for the NSW mining industry, with job losses across the state as miners continue to battle challenging economic conditions and uncertainty in the NSW planning system.
 
The Australian dollar remains stubbornly high and the spot price for Newcastle thermal coal continues to fall to well below $80US a tonne. This is putting significant pressure on a number of operations and miners are working hard to reduce costs without the loss of more jobs than is necessary to keep the mines operating.
 
A review of operations is underway at BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur Coal near Muswellbrook where there will be a loss of contractor positions effective immediately.
 
Peter Sharpe, NSW Energy Coal Asset President described the cuts at Mt Arthur Coal as decisions that will “deliver the necessary cost savings and ensure [they] keep operating in both the short and long term.”
 
Glencore has recently also been forced to reduce the size of the workforce at its Tahmoor mine in the state’s southern coalfields with 40 jobs recently made redundant.
 
In the meantime, the time being taken to determine the future for 500 workers at Anglo American’s Drayton South mine has led to a number of job losses there. Workers have been told that due to doubts around the future of the Drayton South project, the mine will move from a seven to five day roster, effective 1 July. They also confirmed the loss of some contractor jobs at the end of this month.
 
David O’Rourke, General Manager of Drayton South, said it was due to a lengthy planning process, delaying the Drayton South extension approval. 
 
“Unfortunately we haven’t been able to secure the replacement mining lease in time and as a result we have had to scale back the level of operation at Drayton, slow production and extend what we have left for as long as possible,” Mr O’Rourke said. 
 
“Disappointingly, due to the reduction in production associated with the roster change, some members of our contracting workforce have been advised they will finish up at Drayton at the end of June 2014. 
 
“However, as we move to the new roster, in the immediate term we have been able to maximise available jobs for the permanent workforce and no redundancies are required at this time,” but, this Hunter mine is not out of the woods yet as “the current low prices and cost environment makes this a short-term solution at best,”  Mr O’Rourke added. 
 
While these may be short term losses for mining in NSW, the long term prospects for our industry are still strong. Our CEO Stephen Galilee says the NSW Minerals Council is focused on ensuring the NSW Government has a full understanding of the difficulties the industry is currently facing in order to boost government support and action on key policies.
 
"These recent announcements reflect the tough times the industry is facing. While the long term prospects are bright, our short term challenges mean there may be more job losses to come,” he said.
 
“We’re working hard to highlight the industry's difficulties to the NSW Government, and to secure the policy settings needed to help us through these tough times.”
 

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