BHP denies recruiting campaign for ‘closed’ mine

BHP Billiton has denied that it is hiring new contractors at its Norwich Park coal mine despite announcing its closure earlier this month.

The CFMEU has accused BHP of ‘doing a Dubai’, referring to the Patrick lockout in the 1990s, where plans were made to replace workers with contractors trained in Dubai, the ABC reports.

It comes after workers saw an online ad for two year positions at the mine ‘starting immediately’, adding that it provided ‘the security of a long term position’.

The job advertisment, by ATS Recruitment Services, stated that the client was looking for ‘extremely skilled’ operators for a two year contract, according to the AFR.

ATS’s Asleigh Kerr told the AFR that the position had nothing to do with production and actually involved environmental work.

It is reported one of Norwich Park’s current workers found the ad and applied, and was asked to bring in his resume.

BHP has outright denied that it is still advertising for miners at Norwich Park.

It stated that the advertisement was posted two weeks ago and the agency would have been unaware the mine was soon to close.

The ad has since been removed.

According to sources, they told Australian Mining that the Norwich Park mine may go underground in the future, and that work may go to a contractor such as EDI, who already work at a number of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance mines the region.

The mining union is up in arms about this latest information.

Frank Johnston, who has been at the mine for a number of decades told the ABC "In one breath they’re telling the employees they’ll place them across other pits, in the next breath they find out that Norwich Park management’s selling their jobs".

Johnston said the news of the alleged recruitment campaign is an "absolute kick in the guts".

The CFMEU went on to claim that the entire closure of the mine was simply to de-unionise the workforce, pointing to BMA statement that the mine would stay closed until it was "significantly reconfigured".

"At the end of the day, they don’t want a permanent workforce at Norwich Park, they want to de-unionise the coal industry – this is a part of it," CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said.

"It’s very apparent now that they want to run the mine with contractors, introduce whatever shift they see fit and have people living in single person’s accommodation."

He went on to claim that the closure itself was a deception.

"Last week, the way they sold it – ‘oh look, we’re going to be mothballing the mine and then considering our options’. They’ve already considered their options and they’ve probably done this some time back," he said.

Many have pointed to the unions as the reason behind the mine’s closure, stating that with the continued industrial action, operating a low profitability mine such as Norwich Park no longer become viable.

One commentator at Australian Mining stated that "I think (the closure) is also a big F you to the union who have been causing as much trouble as they can. 
The source went on to say "there is also talk of Gregory being shut down and Riverside for a few months. BMA are looking to play hardball".

Earlier this week the CFMEU told BHP to ‘use (Norwich Park) or lose it", stating that the miner should forfeit its lease if it didn’t intend to work the deposits.

It comes after BHP Billiton, which runs the joint venture BMA mines with Mitsubishi, announced it will ‘bank’ the mine to stop other operators moving in.

CFMEU general secretary Andrew Vickers said BHP had leased the mine from the Queensland people, and once it stopped working, the company should forfeit its right to the mine.

"If BHP doesn’t think Norwich Park is worth the effort it should do the decent thing and hand back its lease to the State Government and allow an operator with less focus on super profits to have a go," Vickers said.

"This is export quality coking coal that belongs to all Queenslanders; it’s time for BHP to use it or lose it.

"By ‘banking’ Norwich Park – and stopping another operator offering a lifeline to the residents of Dysart – BHP shows the company is in the Bowen Basin for a good time, not a long time."


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