BHP pretends sackings didn't happen as it breaks coal records

Federal MP for Capricornia Michelle Landry with Prime Minister Tony Abbott - Opening of BMA Caval Ridge Mine. Photo Lee Constable / Daily Mercury
Federal MP for Capricornia Michelle Landry with Prime Minister Tony Abbott - Opening of BMA Caval Ridge Mine. Photo Lee Constable / Daily Mercury Lee Constable

THE world's biggest mining company has managed record-breaking results for its Central Queensland operations, just a month after sacking 700 workers from seven operations.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, or BMA, announced early on September 23 that 700, or 7% of its 10,000-strong Bowen Basin workforce would lose their jobs.

APN learned the sackings would be doled out at its Blackwater, Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs, Saraji, Broadmeadow, Caval Ridge and Daunia Mines.

Caval Ridge was yet to be officially opened -- that would come weeks later, with the blessing of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

>>AS IT HAPPENED: BMA to slash 700 jobs in Central Queensland

Today BMA parent BHP Billiton praised the success of its Queensland Coal operations for mining more coal than ever before.

Its Central Queensland sites pulled 25% more coal from the ground in the September quarter when compared to the same period last year.

Its 12.7 million tonnes of exports is up 7% on the June quarter, or roughly the percentage of BMA's workforce it shed in September.

According to BHP's "Operational Review" report released today, "record production at Queensland Coal was underpinned by strong operational performance across the business and continued improvement in truck and wash-plant utilisation".

"The new Caval Ridge mine operated at capacity during the period while the Daunia and South Walker Creek mines also produced at a record rate."

Despite the production rates, BHP and all miners are being paid a historicallly low price for each tonne they export.

In September, the price of metallurgical or coking coal -- produced by BHP at these mines -- struck a four year low.

At the time of the sackings, BMA coal boss Lucas Dow said an internal review found the mining giant had more workers than it needed.

He said the industry was in a tough spot and to stay "globally competitive", costs had to be cut.

General secretary Andrew Vickers of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said the cuts would "devastate" Central Queensland.

"We will not tolerate BHP cutting permanent jobs in favour of precarious arrangements like labour hire and contracting," he said"

BHP Billiton did not discuss the need for the 700 sackings, or what money that would save, in the 25-page report.

A spokeswoman for BMA said the company had been meeting with those workers affected by the job cuts "on a weekly basis".

"BMA remains committed to supporting our people and their families during this time," she said.

Topics:  bhp billiton coal editors picks news

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