BHP Billiton is to cut 290 jobs at its Mt Arthur Coal asset in New South Wales (NSW) to “strengthen the commercial viability of the mine”, the company said in a press statement.
BHP Billiton’s NSW Energy Coal business, which includes Mt Arthur Coal, reported a loss of US$9 million in the six months to December 2015 on the back of low prices for thermal coal on the international markets. Over the past 18 months, global prices for thermal coal have dropped by an average realised price of 27%.
“Despite extensive work over the past two years to reset out production costs and safely improve the mine’s productivity, Mt Arthur Coal must continue to significantly improve performance to be a globally competitive operation,” said NSW Energy Coal Asset President, James Palmer.
“The decision was not taken lightly because we understand it will have a range of impacts on our workforce, their families and the local community,” Palmer continued. “However, the changes will put Mt Arthur Coal on a more sustainable footing for the future.”
According to the press release, Mt Arthur Coal has begun consultations employees and their representatives about the implementation of the decision. According to Palmer, the company intends to “word closely with employees and the local community to manage the impacts of the decision.”
The Mt Arthur Coal job losses are the latest in a succession of coal mining layoffs in the Hunter Valley with union official, Peter Jordan, saying the region is set to lose more than 1000 jobs in 2016 – including 500 from the closure of Anglo American’s Drayton mine.
Edited by Jonathan Rowland.