The CFMEU is confident mine workers will reject BMA’s enterprise agreement, in light of the mining company’s use of a force majeure clause.
The CFMEU is confident mine workers will reject BMA’s enterprise agreement, in light of the mining company’s use of a force majeure clause.

BMA plays force majeure hand

MONTHS of sporadic industrial action and persistent wet weather has forced BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance to declare force majeure (an inability to meet obligations, eg shipping product, caused by an event out of the company's control, which made performance impossible) at seven of its Bowen Basin coal mines.

More than 4000 unionised workers across the mines downed tools last week, to hold report-back meetings for Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory, Crinum and Blackwater mines. They will return to the coal face this morning, following "well attended" meetings in Emerald and Blackwater yesterday, said CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth.

"Unanimously (the members) have rejected BHP's position of what they see as an impasse and pretty much unanimously rejected the upcoming agreement," Mr Smyth said.

"I'm pretty confident the members will see through their waffle and spin."

Mr Smyth yesterday alluded to the fact further stoppages would hit the seven Bowen Basin mines next week. But because official notice hadn't been filed with the company, he could not confirm exact times and dates.

He said BMA's force majeure declaration was a "suspicious move" in the company's best interest and show a lack of respect for its shareholders, which included the CFMEU.

"It's a show of contempt for their customers because their bottom line might be affected," Mr Smyth said. "They're crying wolf and in doing so, they don't incur penalties (because of the force majeur). And it's a fact, it will drive the price up of coking coal."

BMA on Monday confirmed coking coal customers in Europe, Japan, India, Latin America, South Korea, Taiwan and China had been notified the mining giant was unable to meet supply obligations.

"BMA confirms that force majeure has been declared for all its Bowen Basin products, as a result of continuing industrial action and heavy rain in March across all BMA sites, preventing BMA from meeting its obligations with customers," a BMA spokeswoman said. Details will be in the company's quarterly report.


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