Wollongong Coal cuts more jobs at Russell Vale mine

Wollongong Coal is cutting 41 jobs from its embattled Russell Vale coal mine.

The company has confirmed it made 13 voluntary redundancies and 28 forced redundancies yesterday.

Wollongong Coal chief operating officer Dave Stone said the job cuts come as the operation awaits approvals to mine more of its longwall 6, Illawarra Mercury reported.

The expansion is currently being assessed by the NSW and Federal Governments.

‘‘The restructure is a direct outcome of the inability to operate our longwall past the current approved 356 metres of longwall 6, with the situation causing fiscal stress on the business,’’ Stone said.

‘‘We have endeavoured to minimise the effect on our employees and will continue to engage 181 employees as we progress with the approval process for the Underground Expansion Project.

‘‘Given the current pressures nationally on the coal industry and taking into account the delayed approvals for our extensions we have had to make these tough but necessary decisions to ensure the survival of the mine.’’

CFMEU south-western district vice-president Bob Timbs says workers have endured a tough 18 months at the mine which has seen its workforce halved.

Workers also suffered through close to two months without pay before the company was taken over by Jindal Steel.

At one point the coal miners were asked to work for $21 per hour, or face 120 job cuts.

But Timbs blames the current round of cuts on the stalled approvals process.

‘‘The contributing factor is that there’s no approvals to mine; the union’s look at it is if there were approvals to mine obviously this wouldn’t happen,” he said.

‘‘The company and the powers that be, need to get together and expedite that process without undermining any of the normal protocols that should be adhered to such as consideration to the environment and the public.’’ 

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