Wongawilli to close, says union

STRUGGLING Illawarra miner Wollongong Coal has reportedly put its Wongawilli longwall mine on care and maintenance.
Wongawilli to close, says union Wongawilli to close, says union Wongawilli to close, says union Wongawilli to close, says union Wongawilli to close, says union

Taken by Ray Collins at Wongawilli colliery, New South Wales.

Blair Price

This operation had previously struggled with unworkable strata conditions following a roof fall in February, with 115 staff from the operation eventually made redundant on May 29 as it was reduced to single-miner section running each week from Monday to Thursday.

While the mining company is yet to confirm the press report, news of the Wongawilli closure was revealed to the Illawarra Mercury by a union official.

CFMEU south-western district vice-president Bob Timbs reportedly said the company told its employees production at the mine would cease.

‘‘In the near future it will be put onto full care and maintenance,’’ Timbs reportedly said.

‘‘It’s been one step back from from care and maintenance anyhow and we’ve only had a skeleton crew up there. They were going to do some limited production.

‘‘The company has reviewed its position and they no longer wish for that light production work to be done so they’ve made a decision to remove those people from their positions at Wongawilli and put the mine on full care and maintenance.’’

A call for voluntary redundancies was already made according to the report yesterday.

‘‘They’ll close on Thursday and then there will be some decisions made and further consultation with the company after that,’’ Timbs reportedly said.

He further said the change affects at least 16 employees at the mine and that Wollongong Coal was looking to transfer some of them to other areas of operation.

Unaudited results earlier this month revealed that Wollongong Coal recorded a net loss of $A11.73 million for the June quarter – a 127% decline from the $43.8 million net profit of the previous quarter.

The company has previously flagged putting its other mine, the nearby Russell Vale longwall operations, on care and maintenance if it did not receive timely federal government approval to extract the first 400m of a planned expansion panel.