BHP Billiton to cut 163 jobs from Mt Arthur coal mine

BHP Billiton will shed 163 jobs from its Mt Arthur coal mine as the company attempts to “reset” the cost base at the operation.

BHP is in the middle of a wide-reaching productivity drive that has already seen job cuts at its other coal mines, as well as its iron ore operations in Western Australia.

The miner said an internal review at Mt Arthur identified the need to cut 163 roles, as well as focus on productivity improvements that include equipment performance and cost reductions across the site.

BHP’s NSW coal boss, Peter Sharpe, said the company has advised employees of the results of the review as well as the implementation plans for the coming months.

“The coal industry continues to experience difficult market conditions, including continuing low coal prices and a high Australian dollar and in order to remain globally competitive, the cost base of our Mt Arthur Coal operations must be reset,” Sharpe said.

“The purpose of this transformation exercise is to ensure that our operations remain sustainable for the long-term, and we will continue to assess opportunities and make the necessary adjustments.”

As the mining phase moves from investment-led construction to a production focus, BHP has placed a renewed and aggressive emphasis on productivity and efficiency gains across its entire portfolio in an effort to simplify mining operations.

In June the miner cut 200 jobs from its iron ore business, citing the need to improve productivity.

Cuts have also been seen at the miner’s coal operations in both Queensland and NSW, including 230 from Saraji coal mine.

The job cuts come amidst falling coal prices and a readjustment of the number of workers required to pre-boom levels.

Thermal coal prices are at their lowest level in almost four years.

Earlier this year, BHP coal boss Dean Dalla Valle said the company was on a “journey of simplicity”, stating the it was only “half way” there in terms of productivity gains.

“Over the past 18 months we have focused on our cost base throughout our operations and there is still more we need to do as we continue to look for ways to improve the productivity and competitiveness of our mines,” Dalla Valle said.

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