Redundancies rock Austar, Abel

AUSTAR’s pioneering use of longwall top coal caving technology is over as it officially becomes a continuous miner operation amid Yancoal Australia’s move to make up to 225 redundancies across the Austar and Abel underground mines.
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Controlling the top coal caving

Blair Price

The challenges from the tragic double fatality incident at Austar last year were compounded by the difficult coal market since.

“Since the underground incident of April 2014, Yancoal has worked to try and develop new production options and retain or redeploy as many of our people as possible,” Yancoal said.

“Unfortunately, the continued downturn in the global coal market has made the mine’s current situation unsustainable.”

Up to 55 redundancies were announced at Austar and the mine will become a two continuous miner operation on a seven days a week basis.

If the full 55 cuts are implemented this will be a 29% reduction with 185 employees expected to remain.

The Abel bord and pillar mine fared worse with 170 redundancies targeted and the planned cancellation of weekend operations from August 10.

“Employees will be notified of their redundancy or acceptance of voluntary redundancies on the completion of the selection process on Friday 7 August,” Yancoal said.

Such a cut is the equivalent of shedding 61% of the mine’s workforce with 108 employees to remain.

Austar was the first Australian underground coal mine to use Chinese-developed LTCC technology.

Yancoal, which held off from making this scale of redundancies for considerable time, effectively conceded that they were unavoidable.

“This has been a difficult decision for the business and while we have taken every step over the last year to try and avoid today’s announcement, unfortunately we do not have any further options available at this time,” Yancoal CEO Reinhold Schmidt said on Friday.

“Our management teams are speaking with employees and ensuring they have access to the necessary external employment, redundancy and counselling services required to assist them throughout the process.”