Vale has unveiled plans to cease operations at its Integra coal mine complex in New South Wales in eastern Australia, citing poor coal prices.
The company said that the decision is in line with its strategy to focus on capital allocation and maximising value for its shareholders.
The decision puts an end to production at the mine. However, the complex is to be placed in care and maintenance status, allowing it to resume operations if economic conditions permit.
According to local media reports, the closure will affect 500 people at the Camberwell open-cut and Glennies Creek underground mines.
The coal complex produces about 4.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) from the underground and open cut mines, including semi-hard, semi-soft metallurgical coals, which are used in the steel making industry and thermal or steam coal for power generation.
Spread over 1,900ha, the open-cut mine produces 1.3Mtpa of semi-soft coking coal and 1.2Mtpa thermal coal, and employs about 250 staff.
Integra's underground mine is a long-wall operation producing 2Mtpa. The coal seam ranges from 1.9m to 2.5m, with underground resources exceeding 200 million tonnes.
Vale owns 61.2% of the mine, with the remaining stake held by a group of Asian manufacturers, steelmakers and power companies, including Toyota Industries, Posco, JFE Holdings and Nippon Steel.
In December 2013, Vale announced plans to sell a 15 to 20% stake in its coal operations, projects and mines in Australia.
Image: Vale's decision puts an end to coal production at the Integra mine. Photo: courtesy of Dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.