700 people sacked from BHP’s Queensland coal business

BHP Billiton is cutting 700 jobs across its Queensland coal business.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has blamed the cuts on challenging market conditions and says its workforce across the Bowen Basin have been notified of the changes.

Jobs are expected to disappear from Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs, Saraji, Broadmeadow, Caval Ridge, Daunia and Blackwater mines.

"BMA will continue to work with employees and contractors throughout the process and ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect," BMA's Asset President Lucas Dow said.

"We will also keep our community stakeholders informed throughout the process."

Dow said the company was forced to act to ensure the long-term viability of the business as prices for metallurgical coal fall to $US113 a tonne.

"BMA has to redouble its efforts to improve the cost base of the business," Dow said. 

Cost-cutting has been a key target for the miner this year, with BHP’s coal business shedding hundreds of jobs from both its Hunter Valley and Illawarra operations.

Industry spectators expected more cuts to come following comments made by BHP coal boss Dean Dalla Valle who said the company was on a “journey of simplicity”, stating the it was only “half way” there in terms of productivity gains.

BHP’s wide-reaching productivity drive has also seen hundreds of jobs cut from its iron ore business.

Learning of the workforce cuts today, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman sympathised with those who are facing the chop and the communities they work in, AAP reported.

"My heart goes out to them and their families and I call on BMA to ensure that every assistance is given to these workers and their families – that's what particularly needs to happen right now," he told reporters in Brisbane.

"They need support, they need assistance to find other jobs and if necessary also assistance in terms of relocation.

"I'm also concerned about regional communities that are going to be impacted as well."

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.