Thirty Hunter Jobs at XStrata Lost As Miner Wields AxeABOUT 30 Hunter Valley coal miners face the axe after Xstrata announced plans yesterday to slash 600 jobs in NSW and Queensland in response to low coal prices, high production costs and the strong Australian dollar.
Union officials in the Hunter Valley said the mining giant intended to shed about 15 frontline jobs at its Ravensworth underground mine with a similar number expected to go at its Ulan underground mine, north of Mudgee.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union NSW northern district president Peter Jordan said members were told both mines would be scaled back from seven-day-a-week operations to five. He said delegates were "optimistic" affected staff could be re-deployed within Xstrata or managed through voluntary redundancies.
But he said there was no indication how many of the hundreds of contractors - who work at about a dozen of Xstrata's sites across the Hunter and the rest of NSW - would be impacted after the company said cuts would include both permanent staff and contractors.
BHP has also announced 300 jobs will go with the closure of its Gregory open cut at Emerald in Queensland.
"Xstrata Coal is undertaking a planned restructuring to respond to industry-wide pressures including low coal prices, high input costs and a strong Australian dollar against the US dollar. Following this review, and in keeping with the cost savings objectives announced at our half-year earnings, we will be reducing our employee numbers by approximately 600," Xstrata said.
Xstrata said cuts would also come from its corporate headquarters in Sydney and consolidating its office-based operations in Queensland.
"We do not expect a material impact on Australian production volumes," the company said.
However it confirmed growth projects at Ravens- worth North, Ulan West and its expansion at Rolleston were "proceeding"..
Mr O'Farrell said the loss of Xstrata jobs was "a body blow".
"It reflects not only national economic conditions, but it reflects a higher Australian dollar, lower prices for resources, and both are dictated by international conditions" he said.