Norwich Park miners claim they were the last to know

Some Norwich park coal miners have come out saying they only knew of the mine’s closure when it was announced on Wednesday.

According to one dragline operator at the mine, he only found out when a friend enquired to hear how he was taking the shut down announcement, the Daily Mercury reported.

"They held a meeting on Tuesday night and we all asked them what was happening with the mine," the operator said.

"Our new mine manager said he didn’t know… well, of course he would have known because it was shut down the next day."

A BMA spokesperson denied this, stating that "BMA’s priority has been to ensure that employees received the information quickly and efficiently as is possible," the spokeswoman said.

"All employees not at site or working on Tuesday received a phone call from their manager to ensure they were aware of the decision."

According to the Daily Mercury, the miner in question has permanent member of the workforce and has been at BMA operations for around two decades.

He added that the company’s promise to find him, and the other 490 permanent employees, more work was not trusted.

BHP Billiton originally announced that it was ceasing production at its joint venture BMA Bowen Basin coal mine late Wednesday, citing poor coal quality, low production costs, and a dip in coal prices.

BMA chief Stephen Dumble said “This decision was not made lightly. However, the impact of last year’s floods, combined with lower coal prices and high costs, has resulted in an operation that is not currently viable.

"While recent industrial action has had an impact on production, the mine has been unprofitable for some months," Dumble stated.

"As a result, we have had to take urgent steps to both stop the losses and find the best way to secure the operation’s longer term future. Importantly, this decision on Norwich Park Mine is not reflective of the broader quality of our world class Queensland Coal operations."

While a number of fingers have been pointed at the continuing industrial action that has racked BMA mines for the past 18 months, both the miner and the CFMEU have stated that it was not the cause behind the closure.

"Suggestions this closure was brought about by coal mine workers’ campaign for a fair workplace deal are simply wrong," CMFEU district president Steve Smyth said.

BHP reportedly emphasised this fact during a meeting between the two, stating the closure was due to ‘ongoing economic issues’.

"BHP has clearly stated the closure is a commercial decision to due declining profits at Norwich Park."

Smyth went on to attack the miner and the effect the closure will have on Dysart.

"BHP says it cares about the community – but this is how is behaves at the first sign of a declining profit in one mine.

"If this is how BHP behaves during a boom, what will happen in a bust?"

BMA will officially close the mine on 11 May. 

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