2014: Mining jobs cut so far…

Shaky commodity prices and the end of the boom have resulted in a bad year for job losses, and BHP and Rio have warned of more to follow.

Cutbacks have ranged from small belt-tightening measures, such as 36 job losses at Illawarra Coal, to the level of catastrophic collapse such as when mismanaged contractor Forge Group folded leaving 1300 out of work early this year.

Coal has been the worst hit in mining, with Vale announcing the closure of all operations in the Hunter Valley for care and maintenance, among a series of other cutbacks by BHP and Rio Tinto.

Queensland has also suffered, with Queensland Resources Council president Michael Roche saying that 10 per cent of mines in the state are now in a “very precarious position”.

Industry analysts have blamed oversupply on the global market for the plunge in the price of coal, with hard-coking coal having dropped to $US120 per tonne from $US330 in 2011.

Iron ore has also suffered price-wise, falling from $US135 per tonne down to $US110 in April, however the industry seems to have escaped any major job losses.

However last year’s optimism for iron ore jobs growth disappeared, with Rio Tinto and BHP predictions of demand for thousands of new workers failing to meet expectations.

Blue Ocean Equities director Rex Adams suggested at the Resources Round Up in Sydney earlier this month that the market is now seeing a situation of survival of the fittest, with companies that have grown used to boom-time prices forced to adapt or fail during the downturn of the cycle.

“Prices are pretty reasonable across the metals, they’re not boom-time prices but they’re not dire either, so most people should be able to make money out of the various metals,” he said.

Adams indicated that rapid industry expansion resulted in a swelling of the jobs market, which is now shrinking back to suit the current market.

“Coal prices have come back more savagely than some of the metal prices.

“Those companies are now down on their break even points, or even lower and losing cash, so they have to make some very tough decisions that other areas of industry don’t.

“They have to start cutting out their high-cost production, and that means job losses.

"I think in the various metals, people are being careful and cutting back on high cost production, but theyre not in the same dire straights that the coal industry is in at the moment."

Adams said a market turnaround resulting in jobs recovery will take several years to effect.

“A couple of years out, probably, it takes that long for the adjustments to come through, for the industry to stabilise, maybe produce a bit less,” he said.

“It’s not just happening in this country, particularly in coal… it takes time for people to make the decisions to cut back on production, so you’d be looking a couple of years out for a turnaround, to the point where the job losses stop and people can think about increasing output.”

Mining Job Losses 2014

·        GlencoreXstrata – Newlands Northern coal. 50 jobs to go at the end of June.

·        Bradken – Foundries. 1000 jobs cut last year, last week announced intent to close Henderson foundry.

·        Wollongong Coal (formerly Gudjerat NRE) –  47 voluntary redundancies, dropped workforce by 20 per cent.

·        Aurizon – Workshops. Job cuts in June, 480 jobs to go by 2017.

·        Arrium – 120 jobs/20 per cent of workforce to go at Newcastle Waratah site.

·        Gindalbie Metals – Admin jobs cut at Karara Project in WA

·        BHP – Illawarra coal, 36 jobs cut by June 30.

·        Glencore – Ravensworth coal mine going into care and maintenance in September, 17 redundancies, possible redeployment for 110 others.

·        Vale – Integra Coal Complex (Camberwell and Glennies Creek), 500 jobs.

·        Forge Group – Went into administration, 1370 jobs lost.

·        Anglo-American – Drayton coal mine, 500 employees on the chopping block in 2017.

·        BMA – Saraji coal mine (Qld), 230 jobs.

·        Rio Tinto – Announced jobs cuts to come at Hail Creek coal mine earlier this month.

·        Joy Global – Machine maintenance services, 25 jobs lost at Rockhampton.

·        LDO – Chain Valley Colliery, 73 jobs cut in March (60 already retrenched from Ravensworth).

·        Jindal Steel – Gujurat NRE, 60 redundancies.

·        Norseman Gold (WA) – 33 jobs cut in January.

·        Arrow Energy – 250 jobs cut, failed to start construction of LNG plant on Curtis Island.

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