Anglo American cuts Drayton mine jobs as planning permission stalls

Anglo American has notified workers that it will cut jobs on site due to continuing uncertainty over the Drayton South approvals.

Workers were today told Drayton will shift from a seven day operation to a five day roster, which would see both a cut in jobs and the removal of equipment from the site.

The 500 current employees at Drayton would be automatically employed at the new mine which is adjacent to the existing operation, with Anglo American previously stating that all jobs are at risk if the expansion does not gain approval.

Drayton mine’s general manager Clarence Robertson stated that with “uncertainty still surrounding Drayton South’s approval, the roster change was an unavoidable step to slow production and extend the life of the existing mine for as long as possible”.

The Drayton South expansion is essentially billed as a replacement for the Drayton mine, which is slated to run out of coal in 2017.

“We are persevering to secure state government approval for Drayton South, but as a result of the delays with the approvals process we have run out of time to achieve the overlap we needed to keep the entire workforce employed while we developed the project,” Robertson said.

“Regrettably, with the change in roster we will be reducing the number of crews at site by one and taking out some equipment, which will mean some job losses and redundancies are likely.”

The operation has had a long, drawn out approvals process, with the most recent Planning Assessment Commission report recommending the expansion be rejected due to adverse effects on two nearby horse studs.

Robertson stated that “after all our efforts to co-exist with our neighbours and all the compromises and changes we made to the mine plan, some members of our workforce are now facing unemployment – we can not afford to lose any more time on Drayton South or lose any more jobs”.

He added that “despite the expected redundancies with the roster changes, my overall goal is to keep as many people employed as possible, and minimise the overall impact on people and the community”.

The NSW Minerals Council has slammed the state’s planning system following Anglo American’s announcement, stating that it demonstrates the human cost of a broken planning system.

These job losses were entirely avoidable if NSW had a planning system that worked. Instead the project has been stuck in the NSW planning system for four years, and remains in limbo,” NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee said today.

“Despite years of work on the planning application, and many warnings that the planning system needs to be fixed, we are seeing the human cost of inaction and policy failure.”

“It’s time that the NSW Government took a stand for jobs and approved this project to protect workers and give the best possible chance of restoring the jobs that are set to be lost.”

Anglo American was aiming to gain approvals for the project in 2013, however Robertson said.

“We’ve faced more than six months of delays as a result of the prolonged approval process so far and during this time coal prices have fallen and costs have increased,” Robertson said.

“The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) report on Drayton South released last December was another disappointing outcome for us.

“We have lodged our detailed response to the PAC’s conclusions with the Department of Planning, and we continue our efforts to secure the necessary project approval without further delay.”

Galilee added that “the project has been repeatedly amended and changed to accommodate the concerns of others, but some are clearly intent on killing off the project and the jobs of the 500 Drayton workers regardless of any changes that are made”.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Northern District President Peter Jordan said the mine’s extension was vital in ensuring mining in the region remained strong.

“Coal mining is a critical industry for the Hunter, generating wealth and skilled, secure jobs. It’s important that new projects come online to make up for those winding down,” Jordan said.

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