Glencore has put its proposed Blakefield North underground coal project on hold in the face of weak coal prices.
It is understood that this will affect around 340 full time workers and 60 contractors for Bulga’s underground operations.
The project was initially slated to start production in 2017, extending the underground operations at Bulga, and continuing output as Blakefield South mines out its final longwall panels in 2017.
“The decision has been made as a result of continued low prices in the global thermal and coking coal markets,” Glencore said in an official statement.
Glencore is one of the most efficient longwall miners in Australia, but we are not immune from the ongoing market challenges.
“Unfortunately, the current market does not support the proposed project and we have decided to place Blakefield North on hold until we see improvement in the economic climate,” the miner said.
“We remain confident of coal’s medium to long-term outlook and that our Hunter operations will play an increasingly important role in meeting this future demand.
“Presently, however, we have to ensure that the volumes and qualities of coal we produce are aligned with market requirements. We will not push incremental tonnes into markets that don’t want them or need them.”
Despite this decision to forgo mining the Blakefield North segment of the Bulga underground complex, Glencore said it will not affect the Bulga open cut operations which have received approvals to extend its mine life to 2035.
Consultations have begun with Bulga underground employees.