Mine sackings to ease as coal prices recover

There is positive news on the mining jobs horizon.
There is positive news on the mining jobs horizon. Jacinta Cummins\Dalby Herald

MINERS may face a reprieve this year with sackings likely to finally stop as conditions improve.

It will be a relief for workers after seemingly endless rounds of cost-cutting slashed thousands of jobs from the sector in Queensland last year.

The price of coking coal - used to create steel - is likely to be dragged up from the depths, delivering mining giants the extra funds they struggled to earn last year.

The market sits at $156 a tonne for now, although industry forecasts suggest it will hover about $170 for most of the year.

This price remains at almost half of the peak coking coal hit in mid-2011, when it was selling for $312 a tonne.

That premium was due to supply of coking coal being obliterated by floods that ravaged the state.

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the good news, although mild, should stop the razor gangs in the sector.

"I think what we saw was a lot of nervousness about the fall of commodity prices leading to some lay-offs," Mr Bloxham told APN from the Philippines.

"I suspect we won't see too many further lay-offs."

In November last year, Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche estimated up to 5000 workers - from contractors to office staff - had lost their jobs.

Even now, with Mr Bloxham's cautious optimism, it will not be entirely smooth sailing.

ANZ Bank released a report yesterday showing a lull in job advertisements published in the three months to December last year.

This prompted the bank to suggest the national unemployment rate may rise slightly from 5.2% to 5.75% by the end of this year.

The HSBC economist said "heat" generated from China would again deliver work to our shores.

He pointed to what he called "the Chinese infrastructure story" to justify his confidence in the mining industry.

He said China was developing 27 subway systems and 80 airports as it redoubled its focus on growth.

"Given the slowdown in 2012, authorities want to pull forward these projects to get more support for growth," Mr Bloxham said.

"We're talking massive development."

Topics:  jobs jobs news mining

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