UPROOTED: Wesfarmers Curragh has chosen not to renew the lease on 44 Blackwater properties
UPROOTED: Wesfarmers Curragh has chosen not to renew the lease on 44 Blackwater properties Meghan Kidd

CQ mine to return dozens of homes to State Government

DOZENS of families could be relocated as a Central Queensland mining company looks to offload its coal assets, including housing.

Wesfarmers, the company which owns Blackwater's Curragh mine, has chosen not to renew the leases on 44 company-owned houses due to a decline in the number of staff living locally.

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Mines said the houses were part of a portfolio of about 380 land parcels in Blackwater leased to Wesfarmers Curragh Pty Ltd from the State Government.

The spokesperson said 44 of these leases were due to expire on May 31, 2017. All the leases are residential with constructed houses.

"Wesfarmers has advised the Department of Natural Resources and Mines that they do not intend to seek renewal of these 44 leases but will instead allow them to expire," the spokesperson said.

"As at November 18, 2016, no properties have been returned to the state.

"Wesfarmers has been offered the opportunity to convert the properties to freehold tenure for the cost of the unimproved land value. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has not made any decisions on the long term future of the properties."

The Morning Bulletin understands alternative living arrangements are being made for staff and families living at these addresses.

It's understood some people have lived in the homes for more than 30 years.

The decision comes after reports Wesfarmers is looking to offload its coal assets.

The Blackwater mine produces about 8.5 million tones of coking coal annually, as well as three million tonnes of thermal coal.

Prices for both have increased this year.

Last week, the company confirmed to southern media outlets it was considering the sale of the Curragh mine itself and a 40% stake in a New South Wales mine.

Market sources indicate the sales could generate $2 billion.

Central Highlands Regional Council Deputy Mayor Gail Godwin-Smith on Friday said they had not had any formal advice from the State of Curragh mine in relation to what the future use of those houses may be.

A Curragh spokesperson yesterday confirmed that the company would not be renewing 44 leases on State Government owned houses.

"Only 24 of the houses are occupied by Curragh employees," they said. "Wesfarmers Curragh is consulting with the employees living in these houses and has offered them other housing options and support with relocation costs and additional leave.

"The majority of these employees and their families have already selected other Curragh properties in Blackwater. Many of the families will relocate before Christmas and planning is well underway to have all relocations completed by March 31, 2017."



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