Expansion approval delays blamed for sand mine job losses

A production cut at Cristal Mining’s Ginkgo mineral sands mine has resulted in 27 job cuts.

The mine, located 45 kilometres north of Mildura, is changing its production schedule from seven days a week to just four.

Cristal’s resource development manager, Ray Roberts, said there were a number of reasons behind the decision including a delay by the state government to approve a planned expansion at the site.

Roberts said the company had been dealing with issues associated with the Wentworth Shire Council since January that had worked to prevent the government from granting final approval, ABC reported.

"It's quite clear that delays in approvals have serious consequences in businesses,” Roberts said.

"If we had been able to get the approvals through early last year I'd say that the extension would well be in place at this time and we may not have needed this restructuring."

Earlier this year the Supreme Court ordered Cristal to pay the council $2.5 million in unpaid rates, a ruling the company appealed.

Cristal said it wants greater clarity around  guidelines in place when working with councils with the dispute centred around who should pay for road upgrades and how much should subsequently be paid in rates.

Operations manager,Chris Reynolds, said this will give Cristal a greater insight on future agreements they plan to secure with councils regarding rates.

"We want further clarification from the courts in relation to how local governments deal with these in the future," Reynolds said.

"And consequently we've lodged the appeal, mainly to get a clearer picture of the rights and responsibilities of councils when negotiating rates, particularly with larger projects."

Wentworth Shire Council Mayor, Don McKinnon, said a downturn in the mineral sands sector was more likely to blame for the job losses at Ginkgo.

"I think this is just a matter of the dollar's too high, the product's probably not worth quite as much at the moment, they've been planning for four years evidently the other mine in the Balranald Shire so I think it's just a matter of restructuring," McKinnon said.

He added that road maintenance was a priority issue for the council which was seeking to reach an agreement with miners in the area.

"It's quite easy to blame councils but we're there to try and maintain our roads," McKinnon said.

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