November 30, 2012

Centennial bite the bullet

 Centennial bite the bullet
By LEN ASHWORTH Nov 29,2012, 4 a.m.

IN another disturbing development for the all important local mining industry the western field’s biggest operator, Centennial Coal, has announced a suspension of production at its newest mine, Airly.

The Airly mine, near Capertee, has been operating for only a few months.

It is now to be placed on care and maintenance with inevitable job losses.

Centennial will also stop production at its Mannering mine on the central coast.

A spokesperson for Centennial said yesterday the company was seeking to deploy as many of the displaced miners as possible.

The company has rejected reports from some media outlets yesterday that as many as 100 miners would lose their jobs.

General Manager External Affairs Katie Brassil emphasised an anticipated 40 job losses were anticipated ‘spread across the entire group, not just from Airly or Mannering’.

New capital expenditure is also being put on hold but Ms Brassil said that an expansion project at Angus Place and the coal loader extension at Wallerawang will not be affected and will go ahead as planned.

In a prepared statement released on Tuesday evening Centennial Coal said:

LIKE most other companies in the mining industry Centennial Coal (Centennial) has been reviewing its mining operations in response to the recent significant decrease in the US dollar price of export thermal coal over the past few months combined with the high Australian dollar.

The industry is suffering from record high production costs, a result of the resources boom-driven competition for scarce resources increasing wages and other input costs, but also the impost of increased government processes and charges.

As a result of this review, capital expenditure on a number of projects has been deferred, which will impact some positions across the group, and regretfully Centennial has decided to place both Mannering (Lake Macquarie) and Airly Mine’s (Western Coalfields) on ‘care and maintenance’ commencing January 2013.

“The decision to place these two mines on ‘care and maintenance’ has not been taken lightly,” Centennial’s Chief Operating Officer Steve Bracken said.

“Both mines have struggled to make a positive contribution in their own right not only through the lower coal price but a combination of difficult mining conditions, poor coal quality and, in the case of Airly, transport costs have hindered the viability of these mines.

“In the current market, their losses can no longer be absorbed without negatively impacting the group’s overall performance,” Mr Bracken said.

“Centennial will redeploy the majority of these employees to neighbouring sites across the group minimising redundancies to about 40,” he said.

While on ‘care and maintenance’ both mines will continue to meet safety and environmental regulations, studies and approvals currently under way will be progressed and the sites appropriately maintained to enable a reopening when market conditions improve.

Centennial are not the only mining company with major disruptions, head to page three in today's Lithgow Mercury to see how Coalpac staff have been effected by government indecision.

Posted for Guy

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