Rio miners take their fight to parliament to save jobs

More than 1500 people dependant on Rio Tinto’s Mt Thorley Warkworth mine have signed a petition urging the NSW parliament to help safeguard their jobs.

A petition tabled in NSW Parliament yesterday was signed by 1544 employees, contractors suppliers and family members who rely on the mine.

Last month the NSW Land and Environment court overturned approval for the expansion of Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley mine in the Hunter Valley, potentially putting 1300 jobs at risk.

Rio has already cut 40 jobs following the decision to halt its mine expansion.

Rio Tinto’s energy chief executive Harry Kenyon- Slaney said the decision to overturn the mine’s expansion has ‘unleashed a whirlwind of uncertainty not just for every major new investment project planned in NSW, but also for existing mines requiring approvals to continue operating.’

“The Warkworth Extension Project judgment was the first time a NSW court has overturned a major project approval for the ongoing operation of an existing open-cut coalmine. This will encourage more merit-based appeals,” he said.

Kenyon-Slaney said the decision could set a dangerous precedent.

“This precedent could threaten the broader economic development of NSW well beyond mining sector investment.”

The company have lodged a Supreme Court appeal against the decision to halt the mine expansion but Kenyon-Slaney is doubtful a decision will come quickly enough to save more jobs.

“Regrettably, we expect that the legal process is unlikely to achieve an outcome in time for us to avoid significant job losses,” he said.

“In the meantime, we are continuing a review of the mine to look for ways to minimise impacts on our workers and other businesses that rely on us.”

NSW Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee welcomed the miners’ initiative and supported their call for action from the NSW Government to save the mine and their jobs.

“We support these hard working miners in calling on the NSW Government to take action to ensure the Warkworth expansion’s approval is upheld, which will save jobs and protect the Hunter economy,’ Galilee said.

“If mining and other industries in NSW are not supported by policies that encourage investment, including a decent planning system, we’ll see jobs and investment head interstate or overseas.

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