Swiss-headquartered company’s Newlands and Oaky Creek mines in central Queensland will see reduced production, leading to retrenchments by Q4 2013, according to the Australian Associated Press. Peabody Energy, meanwhile, announced elimination of 450 contractor positions at a project in Queensland and another in New South Wales. Company representatives plan to replace them with full-time employees.
“Against a backdrop of lower coal prices, high input costs and the strong Australian dollar, the decision to cut production has been taken to maintain viability,” the recently merged Glencore Xstrata said in a statement. At the company’s Newlands mine, 300 jobs are being slashed as underground and open cut operations are reduced; 150 staff members at the Oaky Creek project will also be let go.
“This is a difficult decision, but one that needs to be taken in the current challenging economic conditions,” Glencore Xstrata said. The company has cut about 700 jobs since Q4 2012—100 more than originally planned. Previously, Xstrata Coal, a Glencore Xstrata subsidiary, announced 46 layoffs at its Ravensworth underground mine in the NSW Hunter Valley region. In 2012, the site produced 2.2 million metric tons (mt) of coking coal.
Peabody Energy announced 450 job cuts at two of its Australian mines, as mining services company Downer EDI sheds 185 employees onsite at the Goonyella Riverside coal mine in central Queensland. Prices for thermal coal, according to analysts, have fallen more than 30% since 2011 to around $80/mt, while coking coal prices have dropped 40% since 2012 to $130/mt.
Glencore Xstrata, the product of a recent $70 billion-mega merger, is a top resource company with 90 offices located in 50 countries, a portfolio of more than 100 mining and metallurgical sites and 190,000 employees. Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private-sector coal company serving metallurgical and thermal coal customers in more than 25 countries on six continents.
Peabody Energy CEO Gregory H. Boyce has called on Australia’s incoming government to implement comprehensive policy reform to return the nation’s coal industry to global competitiveness.
In the industry keynote speech at the Minerals Council of Australia’s Minerals Week Seminar, Boyce said the nation’s coal sector remains a cornerstone of the economy, but stands at a crucial inflection point. Despite “decades of opportunity” ahead in Asia-Pacific, “all of Australia faces a steep cost if its policymakers get it wrong,” said Boyce, threatening two economic pillars: affordable electricity and the country’s No. 1 resource position in a decade of growth making it “the envy of the developed world.”
Irrespective of which party leads Canberra’s next government, he added, a new policy blueprint must ensure coal sector regains competitive ground for economic growth. This requires a National Commission on Resource Sector Competitiveness, according to Boyce, devoted to a long-term policy framework.