Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton will axe 163 jobs at its Mount Arthur open cut coal mine near Muswellbrook, to trim costs amidst falling coal prices.
BHP Billiton New South Wales energy coal asset president Peter Sharpe said the changes will be effective in the next couple of months after the company holds consultations with the affected employees and the unions.
"The purpose of this transformation exercise is to ensure that our operations remain sustainable for the long term, and we will continue to assess opportunities and make the necessary adjustments," Sharpe said.
The job cuts will affect 89 staff members, 55 production employees and 19 contractors. The latest round brings the total number of job cuts at the mine to 250 since June when 100 contractors were removed.
A report released by ANZ Bank earlier this week stated that around 75,000 mining jobs are likely to be lost in the country over the next two years.
Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon was quoted by ABC as saying that the latest job cuts are another example of why the region's coal industry needs community support. He added that governments need to be careful not to put too many constraints on the industry.
According to a paper released by The Australia Institute in June, the state governments in Australia spent $17.6bn over six years to support the mineral and fossil fuel industries. Queensland spent the largest at $9.5bn, followed by Western Australia at $6.2bn.
"State government assistance to the mineral and fossil fuel industries appears substantial even when compared to big budget items, such as health, education and law and order," the paper said.
Image: Declining coal prices are forcing mining companies in Australia to resort to job cuts. Photo: courtesy of Marcus Wong Wongm.