Ongoing uncertainty over the future of Anglo American's Drayton South project has seen contracting jobs cut and roster changes at the Drayton coal mine.
It follows the constant rebuffing of Anglo American's proposed plan for the Drayton South project, and uncertainty in its approvals.
The Drayton South expansion is essentially billed as a replacement for the Drayton mine, which is slated to run out of coal in 2017.
In February Anglo stated that it would have to cut jobs at its operating mine over the uncertainty, downshifting from a seven day to a five day roster, which would result in job cuts and equipment being removed from site.
At the time Drayton mine’s then general manager Clarence Robertson stated that with “uncertainty still surrounding Drayton South’s approval, the roster change was an unavoidable step to slow production and extend the life of the existing mine for as long as possible”.
“We are persevering to secure state government approval for Drayton South, but as a result of the delays with the approvals process we have run out of time to achieve the overlap we needed to keep the entire [500 crew] workforce employed while we developed the project,” Robertson said.
“Regrettably, with the change in roster we would be reducing the number of crews at site by one and taking out some equipment, which will mean some job losses and redundancies are likely.”
Now Anglo American has carried out these roster changes, and will implement the new shifts from 1 July.
Drayton's current general manager David O'Rourke explained that the new roster change had come as a direct result of the prolonged planning delays.
"Unfortunately we haven't been able to secure replacement mining lease in time and as a result we have had to scale back the level of operation at Drayton, slow production, and extend what we have left for as long as possible," O'Rourke said.
"Due to reduction in production associated with the roster change, some members of our contracting workforce have been advised they will finish up at Drayton at the end of June.
"However, as we move to the new roster, in the immediate term we have been able to maximise available jobs for the permanent workforce and no redundancies are required at this time."
He went on to highlight the ongoing delays with the Drayton South approvals process which "is significantly impacting the likelihood of continuity for our employees and contract providers".
"In March we submitted a retracted mine plan to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, with a smaller area which keeps mining activities behind the natural landscape and reduces the minelife to only 20 years instead of the proposed 27 years; total tonnes will reduce from 119 million to just 97 million over the mine's life," O'Rourke said.
"Based on these significant changes, we urge the Department of Planning to issue their report and recommendations on the retracted mine plan as soon as possible."