Jobs go as coal price plummets

BHP and Rio Tinto have announced major overhead reviews in an attempt to cut costs.
BHP and Rio Tinto have announced major overhead reviews in an attempt to cut costs.

TWO of Australia's largest mine operators have announced mass sackings and office closures as weak international coal markets continue to plague the resource conglomerates.

Rio Tinto this week announced the closure of its Sydney office, costing about 30 support and service staff their jobs, and further cuts to its Melbourne base, according to the company's Australian manager David Peever.

BHP also announced it would focus on cost-cutting measures in an attempt to remain competitive amid the high Australian dollar and weakening commodity prices at international coal ports.

BHP spokeswoman Fiona Martin told southern media the cost-cutting measures included reviewing overhead costs and the sequencing of major projects.

"Against a backdrop of increasing costs and falling commodity prices, we continue to focus on reducing our overheads, operating costs and non-essential expenditures to ensure our assets are well positioned on their relative cost curves," Ms Martin said.

BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers said the company had $30b in growth projects rolling out across the country, mainly in the iron ore sector, but no dramatic change of direction had occurred since the global financial crisis.

Mr Peever said the company was also undertaking a review of its support and service functions.

The company had previously confirmed job cuts were inevitable, particularly at its Clermont Mine operation.

"There will be a reduction in the size of our Melbourne office and, yes we do intend to close our Sydney office as well," Mr Peever told southern media.

"It's just making sure we are building in resilience in our business to deal with what is essentially a difficult time.

"We are seeing downturns in commodity prices, European circumstances are hovering over us, and we need to make sure we are very measured in terms of our approach to cost control."

Rio Tinto has declined to confirm the exact number of jobs lost at its Clermont Mine.

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