About 400 jobs are in the balance as two mining companies continue to argue about a marketing agreement, causing a Queensland mine’s stockpiles to reach near capacity.
The coal stockpile at the Isaac Plains mine has been building since November as the dispute between Aquila and Vale about how separate coal shipments can be made from the mine fail to reach a conclusion, according to the Mackay Daily Mercury.
The argument has led to both companies unable to ship the coal, threatening hundreds of jobs.
The mine, near Moranbah, produces about 2.8million tonnes of coal each year and employs approximately 400 people.
Throughout the argument, the mine has continued producing coal, but it will son reach capacity.
The mine is a 50-50 joint venture between the two companies that both disagree about when their last marketing agreement lapsed.
Vale says its last agreement expired in November last year, but Aquila countered that it pulled out of the agreement last year even though it was actually due to expire two weeks ago.
Aquila, through it’s IP subsidiary, has begun legal action against Vale over the disagreement.
Vale says it is “considering legal remedies available.”
Aquila’s legal case is centred around four shipments of coal it says Vale prevented it from shipping.
Because of the argument, the company estimates it has lost 200 000 tonnes of coking coal from four cancelled shipments since May.
Vale general manager of coal development Chris Coombes told the Mercury some stockpiles could reach capacity by the end of July and they desperately need to reach an interim agreement.
He said workers were feeling uncertain, but Vale was doing all it could to keep the mine running.
But Aquila has slammed Vale for what it says are misleading comments in the media about the marketing agreement between the two companies expiring in November.
“Unfortunately, Vale’s strategy has cost Queensland royalties,” an Aquila spokesperson said.
“It has the potential to cost jobs and has had a material impact on Aquila shareholders”.