Anglo American commits Aquila mine to care and maintenance mode

Queensland’s coal sector troubles has today once again reared its ugly head with Anglo American announcing its Aquila coal mine will go into care and maintenance mode from July 30.

The company announced today the Bowen Basin operation is not viable at current coal price forecasts.

“Based on the current outlook with low coal prices forecast for the remainder of the year, Anglo American has taken the decision to place the Aquila mine under care and maintenance,” CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Seamus French said.

“We continuously review our operational margins and since early last year we have taken out two million tonnes of high cost production capacity as part of this review."

The bord and pillar operation produces around half a million tonnes of premium hard coking coal per year.

“Over the next month and a half operations will begin to ramp down and work will be carried out to place Aquila mine under care and maintenance from late July, in accordance with mine safety requirements,” French said.

Late last year the company announced it would cut coking coal production in response to weakening demand.

"We are going through a planning process where we will adjust to the market conditions and, in the short term, we will cut back," French said at the time.

The company layed off a number of workers late last year, axing 35 full time jobs at its Grasstree coal mine , 50 positions from its Moranbah North mine  when it reduced operations down to a single longwall, and it was reported another 40 jobs were cut from its Dawson coal mine.

Aquila mine employs 80 people, 19 of which are Anglo American staff.

The remainder are employed by contractor Bounty Mining, which confirmed its contract will not be extended past the end of July.

“Unfortunately, the outlook remains difficult for the foreseeable future and as a result, Bounty Mining’s contract will not be extended at the expiry of its term,” the company said in an ASX release today.

Anglo has committed to working with all affected personnel at Aquila but said redundancies and redeployment will be two options to be discussed with staff.

Bounty said it is also “reviewing its operations for alternate work”.

The Australian Coal Association estimates about 9000 jobs have been slashed from the Queensland and New South Wales coal sectors in the last 15 months.

Bounty Mining was unavailable for further comment at the time of publication.

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