Worker shortage hurting Whitehaven

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Whitehaven Coal says a difficulty in finding qualified staff is slowing production, along with adverse weather conditions and a shortage of explosives due to problems at Orica.

In a statement to the ASX earlier this week the company said while mining conditions and productivity at its Narrabri project were good the site was not reaching its potential because of the difficulty in finding workers.

"Narrabri continues to experience difficulty in recruiting sufficient experienced underground miners and contractors to fully utilise its four development mining units," it said.

"This is preventing full utilisation of the four continuous miner units which are available and has resulted in a shortfall of approximately 509 metres against first half year plan to December 2011."

Whitehaven said external contractor SDB-Delta had brought in experienced staff to help fill vacancies and other internal employees were being trained to operate longwall equipment.

The company said its open cut mines had experienced "minor impact" from wet weather in December.

It also said the problems at Orica’s Newcastle plant had impacted production by shortening its explosives supplies.

"Planned mining was interrupted and the production of coal reduced due to the reduction in explosives deliveries as a result of the Orica plant shutdown in Newcastle."

"This resulted in the open cut mines producing at an annual rate of approximately 4 mtpa of saleable coal in the December quarter, substantially below planned levels."

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