Stockton staff under the axe

NEW Zealand mining company Solid Energy has announced a proposal that could see 45 jobs axed from its Stockton mine, the biggest opencast operation in the country.
Stockton staff under the axe Stockton staff under the axe Stockton staff under the axe Stockton staff under the axe Stockton staff under the axe

Solid Energy's Stockton mine

Staff Reporter

The changes will impact management and support services jobs but Solid Energy chairman Mark Ford said they were necessary to keep the mine operational during a period of depressed global coal prices.

“These changes are essential for Stockton to operate at current international steel coal prices," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The short and medium-term mine plans for Stockton include simplifying the mining operations, with less exploration."

Ford said global steel coal prices had dropped from $US225 a ton a year ago to the current $131.50.

The company said 15 people would likely be made redundant if the proposal went ahead, considering that a number of roles are vacant due to a hiring freeze that has been in place since August last year.

The state-owned company has been fighting to stay out of receivership and has cut hundreds of jobs from its workforce over the past 12 months.

More than 100 jobs were axed in May and around 125 jobs were cut from the embattled Spring Creek mine last year.

Despite the lay-offs, Ford said the company was “absolutely committed” to the operation.

“While the government as owner of Solid Energy continues to work with the company’s funding partners to determine the future of Solid Energy’s capital structure, we remain confident that the business has a good operating future and Stockton’s role in that is central,” he said.

“We have a good business provided we can keep bringing our costs down and operate within the volatile pricing of the international coal market.

“These proposed changes in management and support services jobs reflect that and are necessary to ensure the mine’s profitability in the current market for steelmaking raw materials, including the high-quality coking coal the mine produces for export.”

The Stockton Alliance joint venture is a partnership between Solid Energy and Downer EDI Mining NZ.

Last month, Stockton Alliance, the mine operator, reached an agreement with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union that allows for the flexible workforce rosters needed to adjust to any further downward pricing in the market.

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