Miners cut jobs to cut costs

The Minerals Council of Australia has updated its estimated number of job losses in the Australian mining sector to 11,153.

The Minerals Council of Australia has updated its estimated number of job losses in the Australian mining sector to 11,153.

The update came after news that Rio Tinto will place its HIsmelt iron ore processing plant in Western Australia on care and maintenance and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will shed another 400 contractors from its Bowen basin coal mines.

BMA’s decision not to renew contracts with Macmahon Holdings and HMP Constructions at its Goonyella and Norwich Park Mines in Queensland was in keeping with the miner’s commitment to reduce coking coal output by 10 to 15% this financial year.

It follows the dismissal of 1100 coal division employees and contractors as part of the axing of 6000 jobs worldwide in January.

Rio Tinto’s move to suspend operations at its HIsmelt plant for at least 12 months due to depressed prices for pig iron and the poor market outlook has left another 100 workers without jobs.

Minerals Council of Australia deputy CEO Brendan Pearson told MINING DAILY that 2009 is looking very ugly for the mining sector as costs continue to rise and commodity prices fall.

“There must be a more acute focus on the jobs impact of key Government policies – namely the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme,” he said.

“While the causes of the current downturn are global in nature, the Government must ensure that its own policy plans don’t make the situation worse.

“Under the proposed emissions trading scheme, more than 90% of Australia’s minerals exports will be exposed to the highest carbon costs in the world.

“The coal export sector alone will confront a $5 billion carbon burden in the first five years of the scheme. Over the same period, the gold sector will take a $700 million hit to its bottom line. None of their competitors will face any such costs.

“At a time when the global slowdown, high input costs and falling commodity prices have led to more than almost 11000 job losses in the mining sector, there is little doubt the imposition of further significant costs will have an adverse impact on jobs, competitiveness and project viability.”

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