More than 20 per cent of coal mining jobs in NSW have gone since employment peaked in 2012, according to Coal Services.
Figures from the 2015-16 financial year found the number of coal mines in the state have dropped from 62 in 2010, to 40 in June this year.
Five have already closed this year.
The state’s coal industry production workforce has also reduced, from a full time equivalent of 24,972 in June 2012 down to 19,388 workers this June, the Newcastle Herald reports.
This comes as coal companies increasingly favour contract labour in a bid to lower production costs. Coal Services found contractors accounted for 33 per cent of the total workforce, with 67 per cent directly employed by the mine’s operator.
In July, Rio Tinto announced it will only hire contract labour for its iron ore operations as part of its new recruitment protocol for its iron ore division.
Overall raw coal production has slumped for the second year in a row, and while underground production fell by 15 per cent, open cut production increased by three per cent. Yet, the industry body found both employment and production increased significantly at Gunnedah and Ulan.
In a blow to NSW, the state’s coal exports have fallen by 1.9 per cent to 170 million tonnes last financial year; dropping for the first time in 15 years.
Japan is the state’s biggest coal exporter, receiving 44 per cent, followed by South Korea at 17 per cent. However, with China’s restriction on coal imports, last financial year’s shipments significantly dropped by 32 per cent, down to 20 million tonnes.
Export prices have also dropped, hitting $13.3 billion in the 2015-16 financial year, compared to $14.4 billion in 2014-15.
Coal prices have also dropped, hitting $77.92 down by $5.58 compared to last year.