Cockatoo tightens belt

COCKATOO Coal, which said little during a funding-related trading halt from mid-November to early February, suspended operations at its Baralaba mine over four weeks of the holiday period and cut 25% of its workforce.
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The Baralaba mine.

Blair Price

As part of the half-yearly results announced yesterday, Cockatoo said the four week suspension of mining operations ended on January 14.

“Sales of coal continued during that period with only minimal interruption to haulage and railing of coal from existing stockpiles,” the company said.

Press speculation over Cockatoo job cuts at Baralaba was rife in mid-January and the company confirmed a headcount reduction had occurred there in recent weeks.

“As part of the revised business plan involving a more gradual increase in mining operations, the company made an adjustment to the size of the required workforce at Baralaba,” Cockatoo said yesterday.

“This has resulted in redundancies for approximately 25% of the workforce subsequent to the end of the half year.

“A comprehensive information session was provided for employees and contractors in January regarding the current state of the coal market and the necessity to make changes due to changes in the business plan.”

Cockatoo said the majority of personnel attended these sessions.

“Approximately a week after these sessions, and following a thorough review, the redundancies were put into effect. The company regrets the need to make these redundancies, but advises that it needs to optimise the size of its operations to ensure they are appropriate for the current market environment,” Cockatoo said.

The Baralaba mine produced 177,922 tonnes run of mine during the December quarter – a 15% fall from the previous quarter.

In the December quarter, sales were up 30% from the September quarter to 255,826t.

Cockatoo posted a $3.53 million post tax profit for the half year ending December 31, marking a big shift from the $169.8 million net loss posted for the corresponding latter half of 2013.

On February 5 Cockatoo announced a share-diluting, fully underwritten $125 million recapitalisation plan to fund its Baralaba mine expansion. The institutional component of the entitlement offer raised $83.5 million last week.

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