More mining job cuts in Bowen Basin, fears unions

The announcement of Rio Tinto's job cuts at its Clermont coal mine may be the first in many for operations in the Bowen Basin, mining unions say.

It comes after Rio announced it would be cutting jobs at its relatively new Clermont coal mine last week.

A Rio spokesperson has stated that "a review is underway and although the details are to be worked out, it will unfortunately mean redundancies will be required.

"We do not take this decision lightly and are committed to keeping our employees informed and proving support to those affected."

However since then the miner has clarified its statement, saying that its "coalface workforce", as well production and maintenance crews, will not be touched, according to The Morning Bulletin.

With around 900 working at the mine, 400 fit into the 'support staff' category.

Rio has previously said it will be slashing its administrative costs by about 10% globally.

This has not satisfied the CFMEU, who say Rio may only be the first domino to fall in the region, stating that other mines are most likely to follow suit and cut jobs, the ABC reports.

"If Rio Tinto are doing theirs then obviously Xstrata and others who are also in the thermal game will be looking at what they may do next," CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said.

"Rio, whether or not they're doing it because … profitability's gone out of the market or they've got some issues I really don't know, but it certainly will make other thermal producers sit up and think and obviously in the Galilee Basin as well."

Mining unions will now closely watch how other operations within the region will handle the thermal coal price drop.

"If you've got Rio Tinto, them as a multinational laying people off, and then you've got these huge mega mines that are going to start in the Galilee Basin, you have to question how viable they're going to be and what else is going to happen to the thermal coal industry in Queensland," Smyth said.

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