Coal jobs pain continues for Queensland

Despite the constant stream of job losses in Queensland coal mining, the Queensland Resources Council said the industry can take encouragement from recent global developments.

It comes after a string of announcements of jobs cuts in the coal industry.

Yesterday Curragh contractors were told the mine was reducing the size of its workforce on site.

Last week Anglo American also announced the paring back of its staff, cutting more than 30 jobs at its Grasstree coal mine.

Rio Tinto, BMA, and Xstrata have all taken the knife to their staff numbers as well, as Rio closes Blair Athol, BMA shuts the Norwich Park and Gregory mine, and Xstrata slashes 600 coal mining positions across its Australian operations, while Ensham reduces its staff levels.

According to QRC chief Michael Roche "based on public statements and information provided to QRC, we estimate the Queensland coal industry has been forced to shed between four and five thousand positions over the past few months.

"These losses have hit contractors the hardest and extend from the coalface to head office.

"They are a sad but inevitable consequence of a collapse in coal prices and rising production costs," he said, adding that the rising royalty rates also played a part in the roll back of worker numbers.

However Roche stated that the rise of the coal seam gas industry in Queensland is providing a new opportunity for many of these contractors.

"From all reports, the gas sector in Queensland has continued to recruit strongly in the second half of 2012, providing an important buffer to pressures elsewhere on the state’s resources sector," he said.

The plateauing of coal prices, coupled with the strengthening of exports in Queensland, is also 'encouraging'.
"I think we are also seeing in the wake of the US election and new political leadership in China signs of a more optimistic outlook framed around rapidly growing consumerism in Asia," Roche said.

"China may not return to the heady days of double-digit growth, but the latest 7.4 per cent growth rate for the September quarter is nothing to sneeze at in terms of its potential to lay a foundation for Queensland’s long-term prosperity."

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