CFMEU urges Newman to be strong on anti-FIFO stance

The CFMEU have welcomed QLD premier Campbell Newman’s FIFO statements, but say he must back his words with action.

It comes after Newman stated on his twitter that his government is completely opposed to 100 per cent FIFO operations in the state.

This news has been welcomed by the CFMEU, which added that Newman must now stick to his word and take action to reverse existing compulsory FIFO arrangements.

CFMEU QLD district president Steve Smyth told Australian Mining “this is great news, as we’ve always been against both 100 per cent compulsory FIFO or 100 per cent compulsory community hiring, as we believe workers should have a choice”.

“We want Mr. Newman to now stick to his word and get BHP to lift its ban on locals applying for new jobs at its Daunia and Caval Ridge mine, and provide the current workforce the opportunity to live locally if they choose,” he said.

In an official statement Smyth went on to say that there are other mining operations currently refusing to hire locals as well, and this practice must be stamped out.

“The new Grosvenor mine operated by Anglo [American] is insisting its workforce commute to the site from hours away, even though it is only five kilometre from Moranbah.

“With large scale job losses in mining there are many skilled experienced mineworkers in Bowen Basin towns like Moranbah looking for work,” he said.

“They shouldn’t have to uproot their families and leave their communities in order to get around the ban on local employment.”

Commenting on the statments, BHP Billiton said its subsidiary “BMA has eight operating mines in the Bowen Basin and six of those have residential workforces”.

“BMA made a careful and considered decision to operate its newest mines, Caval Ridge and Daunia with remote workforce arrangements for a range of reasons, including the ability to source a diverse workforce and to share the economic benefits of employment in the mining industry more broadly across Queensland,” a spokesperson told Australian Mining.

“The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process that BMA is undertaking for the Red Hill Mining Lease project will enable and sustain mining activities within the Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow Mine complex, both of which are operations with residential workforces.  Whilst the company currently has no plans to proceed with the Red Hill Mine component of the EIS it remains an important future option for BMA.

“The workforce required for the sustaining mining activities associated with Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow mines would be residential. The Red Hill Mine option of the EIS proposes an up to 100 per cent remote workforce for both construction and operations. As stated in the Red Hill Mining Lease EIS the final workforce arrangements for the Goonyella Riverside Mine incremental expansion and the Red Hill Mine underground expansion option will be finalised once the project scope and timing has been committed to by the owners.

” We will continue to work with local communities to find solutions to continue to build local sustainability.  We have made an important contribution over many years.”

Anglo American were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Anglo American to cut Moranbah North jobs

Anglo American will cut at least 50 jobs when its Moranbah North mine reverts back to a single longwall operation.

It comes on the back of a rash of coal mining job cuts across the Bowen Basin.

Earlier this month BMA, Rio Tinto, and Xstrata all announced they will be reducing their workforce.

BMA recently cut 100 employees from the contractor workforce at its Gregory Crinum coal mine in Queensland.

It has also halted expansion works at its Peak Downs coal mine.

Rio Tinto has cut 70 contractors from its Kestrel-KME operation, as well as slashing positions at its Clermont mine and closing its Blair Athol operation; Xstrata will be cutting contractor numbers on its coal mines but refused to detail how many workers would go or which sites would be impacted.

BHP CEO Marius Kloppers this week said it was part of a “broad industry movement” toward cutting jobs on Queensland coal developments.

Now Anglo American has joined the other major with its announcement it will cut positions, the Daily Mercury reports.

It comes as the mine reduces its operations from two down to a single longwall.

Due to this it will reduce its workforce, and has called on some workers to take voluntary redundancy.

An Anglo spokesperson told the Daily Mercury the decision was made “in light of recent market conditions and declining coal prices”.

“This … will reduce workforce and contractor activity across the mine,” she said.

“We are currently conducting a review of business requirements for the new operating environment.

“As a result of the operational changes, Moranbah North mine announced a voluntary separation process in which we have invited employees to register a non-binding expression of interest if, based on their personal circumstances, they would like to leave the business,” she said.

The CFMEU slammed the shrinking coal operations across the Bowen, stating that companies are cutting jobs because commodity prices have slumped.

[Anglo is] going to reduce operations from two longwalls to one longwall,” Smyth explained.

“That’s up to 50 jobs as a minimum. It could be more. They are not entirely sure because they are reviewing operations.”

There is no word yet as to how this will affect Anglo’s planned development of the Moranbah South and Grosvenor projects.


BHP not in slow-down, says CFMEU

BHP has shafted the planned expansion of its Peak Downs mine while remaining committed to it Caval Ridge and Daunia projects near Moranbah.

Revealing a 34% drop in annual profit to $15.4 billion this week, the mining giant said it lost $1.1 billion on its metallurgical coal division.

BHP closed the Norwich Park mine and is currently reviewing the viability of its other high-cost operations across the Bowen Basin.

The company said coal production was constrained largely as a result of industrial action and weather-related downtime.

An insurance claim of $300m relating to the 2008 flooding event had also been settled.

CFMEU national president Tony Maher said the BHP result was “not a sign of a waning boom … but a sign of a resources boom in full swing”.

“Mining companies would like to have us believe they are under the pump and need to pay less tax, cut jobs and contribute less to local communities,” Mr Maher said.

“Don’t be fooled.”

Geotechnical issues continue to dog the Gregory Crinum operation near Emerald, as the company prepares to do a seismic survey in an effort to uncover potential new coal deposits.

The survey will cover 1.86sq km of land around the mine and take six months.

Union delegates back miners

MINING union delegates from every BHP operation in the country gathered in Mackay yesterday in a sign of solidarity for striking Bowen Basin workers.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) workers from the Bowen Basin’s six BHP controlled mines are in the middle of a seven-day strike.

The strike follows more than 18 months of conflict between BHP and the CFMEU.

CFMEU district vice president Steve Smyth said the meeting was useful to share information amongst union officials about what was happening at other BHP controlled mines in the country.

“We’re mainly discussing where we’re at with our dispute in the basin and we’re just touching on what is going on across the country with BHP,” Mr Smyth said.

“We’re making general comparisons of what BHP is trying to do, and in our view that is to de-unionise the coal industry and reduce the entitlements a lot of our members have.”

Mr Smyth said an end to the industrial dispute was likely to still be a long way off.

“I think at the end of the day there will be an agreement,” he said.

“And the end comes when BHP wants to actually sit down and negotiate with us.”

Mr Smyth said there had been no effort from BHP to negotiate with the CFMEU since strikes began on Thursday.

Today, the national delegates will address striking workers in Moranbah.

“All the (delegates) are going to have a meeting and talk to members about what’s going on,” Mr Smyth said.

“It’s… so they know they’re not the only ones in the fight and people are supporting them.”

Workers from the various BHP mines in the Bowen Basin are expected to resume work either tomorrow or Thursday.

Union downplays mine lay-offs

By Jennifer Huxley

Updated April 30, 2012 10:50:54

The Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CFMEU) says the community should not panic about a company’s move to downsize its Bowen Basin workforce in central Queensland.

Twenty contracted workers at Anglo American Coal’s Foxleigh mine have been laid off and employees at the company’s Moranbah North site, south-west of Mackay, have had their hours reduced.

CFMEU spokesman Steve Smyth says it is a common practice at the end of the financial year.

“That’s one of the issues of having labour hire employees and those who are not engaged in fixed-term, full-time employment,” he said.

“Their jobs are like seasonal workers – they can have a job now and not tomorrow and that’s one of the issues that we face in the mining industry.

“It’s not good but it does happen as it gets towards the end of the financial year.

“It has been a practice in the past in other places.”