Unemployment has jumped in the Hunter Valley, with new industry figures showing NSW coal production jobs have fallen below 20,000 for the first time since 2010.
NSW Coal Services have said the number of full-time production now number 19,800, after the peak of 24,400 in April 2012.
Figures show there were 10,800 coal jobs in the Hunter valley in December 2014, Newcastle Herald reported.
ABS monthly job statistics show that the unemployment rate in the Hunter improved to 6.5 per cent in December 2014 from 9.3 per cent in November, but the rate was higher than December 2013 when it was only 3.8 per cent.
Unemployment in Newcastle and Port Macquarie sits at 8.2 per cent, up 2.8 per cent from the end of 2012, however the state-wide figure is 5.7 per cent , up a mere 0.8 per cent in the same period.
With the upcoming state election the NSW Minerals Council has stepped up pressure on campaigning politicians to favour planning legislation changes to streamline the mine approvals process.
Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has said that while the mining downturn was “predominantly caused” by low commodity prices and high currency rates, the “broken planning system” in NSW was also to blame.
The Baird government has promised to reduce approvals times for mine proposals, however Labor have also put mining high up on the agenda.
“New Labor leader Luke Foley has also made an important early commitment to make jobs in regional NSW a priority. Thousands of mining families in the Hunter will be hoping this commitment includes protecting their jobs too,” Galilee said.
Image: The Australian