Glencore Xstrata has confirmed changes are being made to its Mt Owen mine operations in response to difficult market conditions.
“The changes are being implemented by mine operator, Thiess, and will unfortunately affect their workforce numbers,” a company spokesman told ILN.
This is a blow for Thiess – owned by Leighton – which is now faced with cutting 60 staff at the site.
“In response to industry-wide pressures, including a lower coal price, the Mt Owen Coal Operation is decreasing total production by scaling back some of its operating areas,” a Thiess spokeswoman said.
“As the principal mining contractor, Thiess continues to reassess its operational requirements and as a result, approximately 60 full-time positions will be affected.
“We appreciate the impact this will have on some of our employees and their family. We are making every effort to proactively consult with the workforce to ensure they have a full range of support services.”
In another blow to the company, BHP Billiton and joint venture partner Mitsui will be replace Thiess as its main contractor at South Walker Creek from July 1.
It lost the contract to HSE Contracting, which was also Leighton’s replacement mid-contract at the Peak Downs mine earlier this year.
HSE Mining is a privately owned Australian company established in the Northern Territory in 1991.
Its head office is in Perth and it has branch offices in Queensland.
HSE Mining has grown rapidly since its formation and owns a fleet of more than 150 specialised machines.
It was recently awarded a five-year pre-stripping contract by BMA at the Saraji mine site in central Queensland.
The pre-stripping operation involves the annual excavation of 42 million bank cubic metres of overburden ahead of BMA’s coal mining operations.
HSE has mobilised excavator and truck fleets to the site and now has 360 employees there.
It also has a pre-stripping contract with Ensham Resources in Emerald, and is working on the next seven-year mine life plan for the pre-stripping fleet onsite.
BHP Billiton is running a ruler over all its coal mines in a bid to rein in costs.
It had up to $US25 billion in non-core assets it could sell, according to research by Deutsche Bank.
“BHP Billiton confirms that consistent with our commitment to simplify the portfolio, we continue to selectively pursue asset divestment opportunities, with a firm focus on value,” a BHP spokeswoman said.
“Any decision to divest an asset will be announced to the market as required.”
BMA has already started pruning its Queensland portfolio with the decision to offload the depleted Gregory mine, while keeping its options open to develop or sell the adjacent Crinum underground mine.
The conveyor gantry at Crinum South has been partially dismantled prior to relocation to Gregory to feed the Crinum East product.