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CFMEU upbeat on Hunter mining

Editorial
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The mining union is optimistic about the Hunter’s job prospects in the mining industry even as the Reserve Bank’s released a grim quarterly statement on monetary policy.

The RBA’s statement showed a rough road ahead for mining investment.

The New South Wales Minerals Council recently held a roundtable calling for the state government to better support the industry through effective planning laws.

Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee said recently the Hunter’s coal sector has lost more than 600 jobs in the last 12 months.

But CFMEU general secretary Andrew Vickers is optimistic of Hunter’s mining development prospects and said the sector is still growing there.

He added the Hunter would continue to do well in mining even if mining investment wanes across the rest of Australia, the ABC reported.

“There is an ongoing expansion of the coal industry going on,” he said.

“Newcastle Port had a record, an all-time record through-put last month for example.

“There are still a number of new mines which are being seriously contemplated and expansions of existing operations.”

Lifeline’s financial counselling offices were recently bombarded with people in the Hunter who lost their jobs and did not have a backup plan.

Manager Wendy Maile said mining contractors and casual workers were most affected by job losses.

While Vickers acknowledged new mines would ultimately decelerate, this would be an opportunity to generate more permanent jobs in mineral excavation.

“It’s only natural frankly that the investment which we’ve seen in expansion of the existing mining operations and the development of new operations would slow down,” he said.

“What that will be replaced by will be a ramping up of production and potential expansion of permanent employment directly in the industry, as opposed to in the construction and expansion of the industry.”

GlencoreXstrata’s Mount Owen open-cut coal mine recently lost 70 jobs, while Rio slashed 40 jobs from its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine.

GlencoreXstrata also cut 46 workers from its Ravensworth mine in the Hunter valley, while 26 jobs were lost from Sandvik after it closed its hard materials facility in Mayfield.

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