80 jobs lost from Wollongong Coal

Wollongong mine workers will be mourning the loss of another coal mine as the Russell Vale colliery enters a period of suspension.

Wollongong Coal will drop 80 members of staff from the site, including operators, electricians, fitters and other roles.

The Russell Vale mine will retain a small crew for care and maintenance.

The mine recently failed to get approval for an expansion project which would have seen 4.7 million tonnes of coking coal extracted from eight new longwalls over five years.

The NSW Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) found in April that more information was required to make a determination.

Wollongong Coal CEO Miling Oza said the company had faced a tough operating environment for some time, which included significant financial losses on top of delays in the approval of its underground expansion project.

“This decision is not taken lightly and we have continually attempted to avoid this unfortunate situation by undertaking a series of workforce restructurings,” Oza said.

In May Wollongong Coal dropped 41 workers, including 28 forced redundancies, from the Russell Vale operation.

“With the partial extraction of longwall 6 at the Russell Vale colliery completed and the company experiencing significant losses, ongoing operations at the colliery are simply not sustainable at this point in time.”

Oza said the company was committed to ensuring the operation was not lost, with $400 million invested in the colliery, and would not cease in pressing for approval for the expansion.

“Wollongong Coal will continue to seek approval for the underground expansion project at the Russell Vale colliery, which will allow us to recommence extraction of high-quality coking coal, which is in high demand by the global steel market.”

The company expects the expansion proposal to go back before the PAC before the end of the year.

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