More job losses at Russell Vale coal mine

Wollongong Coal is cutting more jobs at its Russell Vale coal mine.

The move comes as the beleaguered mine awaits approval for an expansion project which will see mining extended at the site for five years.

Wollongong Coal’s chief operating officer David Stone said the mine would shut down over Easter in a bid to stagger coal production and workers have until April 10 to decide if they will take the voluntary redundancies on offer.

Stone said the workforce restructure would have occurred regardless of the outcome of its expansion plans but he would not be moved on the number of jobs to be cut at the mine.

"Wollongong Coal is in an ongoing discussion with employees about ways it can restructure the workforce as it seeks state and federal approvals," Stone said.

"We've put some options to limit the effect on people."                                

The Planning Assessment Commission was recently tasked with reviewing the mine’s expansion plans, with a decision on the project delayed as PAC seeks more information from the Dams Safety Committee.

Currently, Wollongong Coal only has permission to mine until December 2015.

The company is proposing to expand its mining operations to the north-west to extract 4.7 million tonnes of coal over the next five years.

The proposal, known as the Underground Expansion Project (UEP), involves the extraction of coal from eight new longwalls.

However issues over subsidence, surface and ground water impacts, and potential flooding impacts over Bellambi Gully and Bellambi Creek led to the PAC review.

The Dams Safety Committee will now weigh in on whether it thinks Wollongong Coal should be allowed to mine under swampland that flows into the Cataract Dam.

Last year Wollongong Coal sacked 152 workers from Russell Vale and Wongawilli mines, and the year before that whilst under the management of Arun Jagatramka, workers suffered through almost two months without pay before Jindal Steel took over the company.

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