Mining town in shock over 70 job cuts
UPDATE, 11.30AM: IT'S BEEN an "unsettled 12 months” for the Bowen Basin mining town of Middlemount.
This is according to a shocked local business owner, who does not wish to be named, as she responded to Middlemount South's announcement 70 jobs would be cut at Foxleigh Mine.
The company has called in contractors Sedgeman Contractors and Comiskey Mining Services to undertake the wash plant operation and "maintenance and mobile maintenance activities” to reduce unit cost production to keep the mine viable over the long term.
The business owner has lived in Middlemount for more than a decade, and said this morning's news reflected the "up and down” nature of the industry.
"It's never good when people lose job, on the upside someone will get a job,” she said.
"They are still people who need work, it's always sad for the ones who lose the job.
"We have just had a crazy 12 months, Anglo (American Coal) had all their mines on the markets, Foxleigh was one of them, that's been sold,” she said.
"There's still speculation, no one knows; someone says 'they (other mines) are still are on the markets', others say 'no, they have them off'.
"There was the (German Creek Mine) strike last year from August through to September.
"It's been an unsettled 12 months for the town.”
In December last year, Anglo American announced 82 German Creek Mine workers would be made redundant just before Christmas, following months of protected industrial action over job security.
On whether she expected this morning's cuts would impact the wider community, the business owner said that depended on whether the affected workers lived within the community or in camps.
She explained the majority of Middlemount's land was leasehold, which meant the mine workers predominantly lived in camps rather than in privately owned homes or rental accommodation in town.
"A lot depends on if it's people living in town, or in the camp,” she said.
"They can be permanent jobs if they are people in the camp that won't impact on us if it's the same as in town.
"Middlemount is unique where we don't have a lot of private housing, most of the housing in town if you don't have a job with the company then you don't get a house.
"Unlike Dysart, Moranbah, Emerald and Capella - we are different.”
Emerging from a year of uncertainty, the business owner said "it would be nice to just have stability, whatever level that happens” but noted all communities were impacted by fluctuating jobs and markets.
"I think it's just a widespread feeling of what's going to happen?,” she said.
"Permanent workers haven't go that much more stability either, it's just the nature of a lot of businesses anywhere.”
INITIAL: 70 BOWEN BASIN JOBS SLASHED AS MINE CUTS COST
SEVENTY Foxleigh Coal Mine workers will be axed as contractors are called in to handle operations and maintenance roles at the Bowen Basin site.
Middlemount South, about 270km north west of Rockhampton, today announced the "operational restructure” would help achieve a lower unit cost of production and extend the operational life of the Foxleigh site.
The transition will see industry contractors Sedgeman Contractors and Comiskey Mining Services undertake the wash plant operation and "maintenance and mobile maintenance activities”.
Chief operating officer Scott Graham attributed the move as a bid to make the mine viable within the "challenging coal market”.
"Since taking over operations at the Foxleigh Mine in late August 2016, it has become clear that we need to make changes now to achieve a lower unit cost of production in order to keep the mine operating over the long term,” Mr Graham said.
"By implementing these proposed operational changes, we expect to not only achieve this, but also make the operation more agile and responsive to a challenging market.”
Mr Graham said along with extensive consultation with the CFMEU, the company are committed to handling the transition in a
respectful way”, and would support staff with financial advice and counselling.
He said some staff were accepting voluntary redundancies, all personnel would receive full entitlements and "the opportunity to interview with the new contractors”.
"Our primary goal is to achieve the lower unit cost of production required to make the mine profitable over the long term. The new operating model will ensure the mine's ongoing operation and its ability to be a strong local provider of jobs well into the future,” he said.
Middlemount South bought the stake off Anglo American in August last year.
The Morning Bulletin has sought comment from the CFMEU.