Mine throws 80 out of work

ABOUT 80 workers will get the boot at the end of the month when mining giant Vale ceases one of its Queensland operations.

And the outlook is not good for the sacked workers whose hunt for alternative jobs will be in a tough employment market, according to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union district vice-president Steve Pierce.

Vale public affairs manager Noel Herley said the closing of Broadlea Mine, north-east of Moranbah, was the result of a number of circumstances.

“Due to a combination of lower Australian dollar sales prices, continuing low yields and high fixed-to-variable-cost ratios relative to our volumes, the Broadlea mining operations will cease at the end of November,” Mr Herley said.

In total, 41 Vale employees and a “smaller number” of contract employees would be affected, he said.

A Broadlea Mine employee, who has worked at the site since just after it opened in 2006, said the announcement was completely unexpected.

“They had just put on all these new guys and changed the roster. Those new guys had left good jobs to come here and they only lasted three days and that was the end of it,” he said.

“It’s just a bombshell four weeks out from Christmas. We’ve just been around all the employment mobs and there is not a lot around.

“It all seems a bit weird. They just said it was due to the US dollar being over 90 cents but we haven’t heard about anyone else closing down or anything.”

Mr Pierce said the union was in the process of helping the affected workers find other suitable jobs.

“At this stage we are working with Vale management to see if we can find alternative employment for those people at one of their other operations,” Mr Pierce said.

“But given the state of the industry at the moment and that most people have got their manning numbers, we think that it’s going to be difficult to find those people alternative employment.

“We are seeing an increase in labour at some mines but that is all casual, not permanent work.

“I think it would be incorrect to say manning levels are the same as the shut down level at Christmas last year.

“Life is not looking really secure for these people at the moment so we will be doing what we can for them but it’s not looking really good at all,” Mr Pierce said.

But Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Stephen Robertson said last week Queensland’s mining industry was booming with 8000 more staff working in the field than at the height of the boom in August, 2008.

“There’s no doubt our mining industry has felt the impact of the global financial crisis but through industry and government’s dedication and good planning, this result speaks for itself,” Mr Robertson said.

“The perception that Queensland is a mature exploration destination is far from the truth.

“This vast state has major exploration frontiers with huge potential, both under-explored and under-developed.”

Last Friday, the Bligh Government announced two new initiatives to bolster the mining industry; the first will see 10 new officers recruited to support the LNG industry and the second will establish a new Greenfields Prospectivity Unit to encourage energy and mineral exploration.

“The Bligh Government is supporting Queensland’s mining industry to not only explore but develop and as the figures show, this means jobs,” Mr Robertson said.

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