Kestrel production sliced by 15%, 50 contractors to go

DEBT-laden Rio Tinto will slash 50 full-time contractor jobs and 15% of production at its Kestrel longwall in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, as the mine scales down its preparation plant to a five-day roster in the wake of lower coking coal demand.
Kestrel production sliced by 15%, 50 contractors to go Kestrel production sliced by 15%, 50 contractors to go Kestrel production sliced by 15%, 50 contractors to go Kestrel production sliced by 15%, 50 contractors to go Kestrel production sliced by 15%, 50 contractors to go

Rio Tinto's Kestrel longwall. Photo by wwww.judigraphics.com

Blair Price

Rio coal division communications and media manager Alison Smith told International Longwall News the company has been spending this week advising the workforce of the changes.

"Longwall production will be reduced to two production crews and the coal preparation plant will reduce to five days per week of coal processing," she said.

"All development activities will continue normally. The curtailed longwall production crews will be re-deployed to other activities within the operation.

"These actions will regrettably result in a reduction of contract labour by 50 full time roles for the foreseeable future.

"This reduced demand is a direct flow-on from the decline in global steel production. This configuration will remain in place until such time as sales improve."

The mine produced some 1 million tonnes of premium hard coking coal in last year’s third quarter.

Last month, Rio coal division acting communications and media manager Nathan Scholz told ILN the $US991 million expansion of Kestrel was under review.

Rio had previously announced it would cut over 14,000 jobs and reduce net debt by $US10 billion by the end of 2009.

Japan’s second largest steelmaker, JFE, said this week it expected coking coal prices to fall back at least to 2007 levels, which would be around $US98/t – far below unprecedented sales of $US300/t achieved during the peaks of 2008.

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