Union says big companies "flooding" coal market

Union blames big coal companies for demise of small operations
Union blames big coal companies for demise of small operations Colette Landolt

A UNION leader has hit out at two big mining companies for driving the Isaac Plain coal operation "out of business".

CFMEU president Stephen Smyth said big producers were "flooding the market" with coal.

Vale Australia and Sumitomo yesterday announced the Isaac Plains coal mine, east of Moranbah, would be shut down at the start of next year.

"Unfortunately it's another in a series of decisions by major companies to reduce the workforce. The difference in this case is they're going to mothball the mine," Mr Smyth said.

"This time, though, some of the major producers like AngloAmerican and BHP are actually flooding the market. You could say the likes of Isaac Plains are being driven out of business by the bigger producers."

A BHP spokesperson said the company set prices in accord with the global market and the decline in global coal prices had impacted them too.

Mr Smyth said about 300 workers were set to lose their jobs following the closure down of the mine.

"We'll engage the company, but it'll be extremely hard to mitigate the job losses seeing as the mine will be mothballed and not just a reduction in the workforce. Whilst we are taken by surprise we did hear some rumblings a few weeks back that Isaac Plains might be in trouble."

Mr Smyth said the Bowen Basin could be hit hard by further job losses as more mines felt the impact.

"There will be some tough times ahead. I think long term there's some further pain ahead," he said.

In a joint Vale and Sumitomo statement yesterday morning said the mine was no longer "economically feasible" and would be placed into "care and maintenance" by the end of January, 2015.

AngloAmerican declined to comment.

Queensland Mining minister Andrew Cripps declined to comment as the closure was a "commercial decision."


Topics:  coal mining unions

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