Union not at fault in Norwich Park mine closure, sources say

Despite many peoples’ beliefs, ongoing industrial action is not the cause behind the Norwich Park coal mine closure.

Following the announcement of the immediate closure of the BMA Norwich Park coal mine yesterday, the miner and the unions have sought to confirm that the long running industrial action was not behind the mine’s shut down.

According to BMA’s Stephen Dumble "the mine had been unprofitable for months".

The CFMEU district president Steve Smyth added that industrial action did not play a part in its shut down, according to the SMH.

”The impact of industrial action is next to nothing, the onus has got to come to the way they’ve been operating it,” he said.

”If BHP want to use this as a shot across the bow or to demonstrate they are fair dinkum then that’s pretty ordinary, it’s disappointing.”

Minelife resource analyst Gavin Wendt agreed, saying the announcement was "no big shock", the ABC reported.

"Commodity prices have come off significantly over the last 12 months and that straight away has impact [on] companies’ bottom lines.

"At the same time there are rising cost pressures."

He went on to say that "operations like Norwich Park – older operations – are very much exposed to the vagaries of the market.

"And it’s these older operations that BHP and other companies like them would be looking at closing down, at least temporarily until things can improve."

It is not the first time the mine has shut down either.

In 2009 BMA partially shut operations and ran a skeleton staff due to "difficult market conditions".

Rumours had also surfaced in the nearby community of Dysart that the mine was likely to shut soon.

However, while the mine shut down improves certainty for BMA, it has caused havoc in the nearby community of Dysart as 1400 workers face uncertainty.

Smyth stated that the move has been "a kick in the guts for Dysart," adding that if this is a boom "I’d hate to see when a bust comes," The Morning Bulletin reported.

One Dysart local business owner, Elizabeth Fox, told the Daily Mercury that the announcement was a serious blow for the community.

Fox went on to say that it would directly affect her business.

"A lot of my staff are teenagers, they’re from mining families and their parents work in the mines," she said.

"The wives of the miners all work in the town as well."

Another business owner, Jason Moffat, added "the worry for a lot of people is that it’s going to have a detrimental effect on sporting clubs and so forth if people decide to move away.

"You take one of the mines out and it has an effect on every business in town"

The mayor of the Isaac region in which the mine is located said people knew it was troubled but did not expect it to shut.

"It’s not good news for the community. I wouldn’t say it’s unexpected, there have been rumblings for quite some time now that they might restructure Norwich Park but as far as closing it … it’s come as a bit of a shock," the mayor Cedric Marshall told the ABC.

The announcement came yesterday as the CFMEU called on Fair Work Australia to halt the latest ballot from BMA for a new enterprise agreement.

The CFMEU met with BMA this morning. 

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