The CFMEU has questioned Vale’s honesty over decisions to close two Hunter Valley mines while simultaneously applying to tap into billions of dollars worth of unmined coal reserves.
Recently Vale have announced the closure of the Integra coal complex, which includes Camberwell open-cut and Glennies Creek underground mines, claiming that they are no longer economically viable.
Around 500 jobs have been lost as a result of the decision to put these mines into care and maintenance, with workers from Glennies Creek asked to stay at home on full pay, and redundancies at Camberwell expected in July.
However, Vale have also applied to the state government for $6 billion worth of sterile coal reserves, off-limits due to environmental offsets.
CFMEU district secretary Peter Jordan has concerns that the Brazillian miner has not told the truth about the viability of those mines, and simply plans to sell the mines or reopen them with cheaper labour.
"In previous communication with the Union, Vale has always said they don't intend to reopen either of those collieries, yet here they are back in May at the same time as announcing the closure of both those two collieries, making application to vary or modify their current lease to access excessive amounts of other coal," he said.
“We think it's all about circumventing the employment conditions of those permanent workers by bringing in contracts on lesser conditions of pay and employment.
“If they're wanting to access six billion dollars worth of coal why they just don't keep working both those collieries in the meantime and make application like every one does.”
The CFMEU have already identified that Vale will have to pay around $63 million to close the mines, in order to cancel contracts for site, port and rail.