Norwich Park Mine before it closed.
Norwich Park Mine before it closed. Tara Miko

Rumours Norwich Park Mine may reopen

THE dogs are barking that BMA will reopen its mothballed Norwich Park Mine by the end of the year with a non-union workforce.

Coal communities advocate Jim Pearce said he understood BMA had struck an agreement with a mining service provider to bring in contractors, with fears former Norwich Park miners and Dysart locals would not get a look-in.

"It is definitely not unexpected, because there was always a high level of understanding the mine would reopen when BMA claimed it was again viable," Mr Pearce said.

"And there had been the thought it would reopen under contract with another company.

"It's a done deal," he said.

"I understand the contract was signed off in recent weeks.

"My take on it would be we would see the same scenario happening in Dysart that has happened at Collinsville where a new company would use a labour hire company to employ its workforce under a directive that says local residents should not be considered."

BMA closed Norwich Park on May 11, 2012.

The company stated the coking coal mine had been bleeding money and a review of key operating areas was needed.

At the time, BMA was in the middle of a bloody battle with the CFMEU, AMWU and ETU over enterprise bargaining agreements.

"A number of people still hold the view that BHP was perhaps closing the mine as part of a political muscle game during the negotiations and at some time in the future they would attempt to reopen it," CFMEU district vice- president Steve Pierce said.

"Obviously we have sought to protect the arrangement as best we can in the interests of permanent employees, but rumours abound in Dysart that BHP will have someone else managing the mine on their behalf.

"We have not been able to confirm or deny this… and we are wondering what is going on because the rumours are getting stronger.

"But every time we go looking for someone to confirm it, they disappear."

A BMA spokesperson told the Central Queensland News the mine remained in "care and maintenance and no decision had been made on restarting operations".

This week BHP announced it had mined 22% more coal than the corresponding period last year with South Walker, Poitrel and Saraji mines setting production records.

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