Rio cutting more coal jobs in wake of royalty rise

Rio Tinto has announced it will slash more jobs across its coal mines in Queensland as the state raises its royalty rates.

The miner has reportedly not stated just how many jobs will be cut, only that it will be across its coal operations, according to the ABC.

It warned last week that the Queensland Government's decision to raise the royalty rate would directly impact its operations.

Now a Rio spokesperson has said that "the Queensland Government's decision last week to increase royalties is the latest example of the cost escalations affecting the coal industry.

"We are working to improve our competitiveness by actively seeking ways to reduce costs across our business, which unfortunately means some roles will no longer be required.

"These are not decisions we take lightly, jobs are being protected wherever possible and support is being provided for employees."

This was echoed by BHP which stated that "we have made it clear to the Queensland Government that any additional royalty impost will directly impact the profitability of our existing operations, and will affect future business decisions regarding growth capital allocation".

These new cuts are just the latest round of job losses for the industry, which included BHP paring back jobs, the closure of Rio's Blair Athol mine, the closure of BMA's Gregory coal mine, and Xstrata slashing around 600 workers.

However while miners are blaming rising costs and lower coal prices, the CFMEU has pointed the finger at management.

"I think a lot of these companies have to look at their own way of managing," district president Steve Smyth told the ABC.

"Obviously they're looking at their current operations but if you look at it across the board, not a lot has changed.

"Work forces have increased and there has been some costs increase as well but the companies need to go back to what they were doing when the coal price was three times lower than what it is now and they still made profits.

"The Aussie dollar is still high but there's means and mechanisms in place they can be doing to review their operations

"It doesn't mean you've just got to cull and cut your workforce as soon as you've got a little bit of a blip or potentially going to lose some of your profits."

He went on to add that "the companies are using [high production costs and lower commodity prices] as a bit of an excuse to trim the fat and make sure they maintain their bottom line and huge profits," he said.

"They'll use anyone – it could be the State Government."

Smyth added that "BHP blamed the unions for Norwich Park shutting."

However at the time BHP repeatedly stated that it was not due to union action, rather the unprofitability of the mine itself.

Rio has a number of coal mines across Queensland, including Kestrel, Clermont, Hail Creek, and the closing Blair Athol mine, as well as Mount Pleasant, Mt Thorley Warkworth, and Bengalla in New South Wales.

Apart from its coal operations in Mozambique, Australia is the only nation in the world where Rio Tinto runs coal mines.

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