Drayton cuts contractors

DELAYS in the approval of Anglo American’s Drayton South project in New South Wales have forced the company to change its rosters and put off contractors who work at the main Drayton mine.
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Lou Caruana

Drayton South is planned to extend the life of the existing 30-year-old Drayton mine, which is due to run out of mineable coal reserves next year.

Drayton mine general manager David O’Rourke said the mine’s seven-day roster would be changed to a five-day roster from July 1.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to secure the replacement mining lease in time and as a result we have had to scale back the level of operation at Drayton, slow production and extend what we have left for as long as possible,” he said.

“Disappointingly, due to the reduction in production associated with the roster change, some members of our contracting workforce have been advised they will finish up at Drayton at the end of June 2014.

“However, as we move to the new roster, in the immediate term we have been able to maximise available jobs for the permanent workforce and no redundancies are required at this time.”

O’Rourke said the Drayton South expansion would ensure the Drayton operation could continue when the current mineable reserves expire next year.

“While I am sure many people are feeling relieved at this news, I must stress we are not out of the woods yet because there is still uncertainty surrounding Drayton South’s approval and the current low prices and cost environment makes this a short-term solution at best,” he said.

“We continue to face delays to the Drayton South project and this is significantly impacting the likelihood of continuity for our employees and contract providers.”

In March Anglo American submitted a retracted mine plan to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment with a smaller area, which keeps mining activities behind the natural landscape and reduces the mine life to only 20 years instead of the previous proposal of 27 years.

Total tonnes will reduce from 119 million tonnes to just 97Mt over the mine life.

“Based on these significant changes, we urge the Department of Planning and Environment to issue their report and recommendations on the retracted mine plan as soon as possible so we can progress with urgency to the next phase of project approvals,” O’Rourke said.

“We also urge the minister to take action to ensure we can progress the next phase in a timely manner and provide our people with some certainty.

“We hope to receive approval for our retracted mine plan soon, so we can avoid the risk of further job losses and provide our employees with peace of mind about their futures.”