Rio Tinto is cutting jobs at its Kestrel mine in Queensland, with workers informed of the changes yesterday.
The mine, located 40km north east of Emerald, is Rio’s only underground coal operation and underwent a $2 billion extension which opened in October last year.
The expansion added 20 years to Kestrel’s life and increased the production of hard coking coal to 6 million tonnes a year.
However, a Rio spokesperson said with tough conditions continuing to face Australia’s coal industry, cost reductions were required at Kestrel to ensure the mine remained competitive.
“We have worked to significantly reduce costs and improve productivity across all of Rio Tinto’s Australian coal mines, but still more needs to be done,” the spokesperson said.
“We will be consulting with all employees about these changes and providing support for those affected.”
Earlier this year Rio also announced plans to cut jobs from its Hail Creek coal mine, also located in Queensland.
The move comes as coal prices hit six-year lows, forcing companies nation-wide to conduct similar reviews.
Cutbacks have ranged from small belt-tightening measures, such as 95 job losses at BHP’s Mount Arthur coalmine, to the closure of entire sites which saw 500 jobs slashed from the Integra coal complex.