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Wollongong Coal threats to cut coal jobs

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Wollongong Coal is threatening to shut down its embattled Russell Vale mine, cutting 200 workers, if the government doesn't advance its longwall mining approvals.

The miner has been pushing for the approval if Longwall 6 at its Russell Vale coal mine since last year.

The proposal includes the construction of a longwall approximately 1.12 kilometres long and 150 metres wide, the miner said in its submissions to the environmental planning department.

However it has hit roadblocks as its expansion application has been referred from the NSW Department of Planning on to a federal body, due to concerns over environmental impact, according to the Illawarra Mercury.

The miner, however, has stressed the urgency of approvals in its submission.

"Time of is of the essence for this action," it stated.

"To ensure that operations at Russell Vale Colliery can continue, thus ensuring continuing employment for the current workforce, the action will be commenced as soon as approvals under the EP&A Act and EPBC Act are granted," Wollongong Coal said.

It went on to state "if action is not taken the Russell Vale colliery would be placed under care and maintenance upon completion of currently approved activities; this would involve the retrenchment of approximately 200 employees".

However according to the Illawarra Mercury approvals are not likely to be swift coming.

Workers have had a rough recent history at the miner's operations.

"[It] is not expected to be determined in the near future," the NSW Planning department stated.

Earlier this year Wollongong Coal asked workers to take a pay cut, pushing miners to work for $21 an hour, or else face 120 job losses.

The company said mining from longwall 4 and 5 has been completed, and once the longwall 6 mine gate roads are constructed, no further coal mining or underground development is permitted without further approval.

One miner described the workers as feeling “beaten down”.

“They've been thrashed that much over the past few years," he said at the time.

However despite negotiations 152 workers were let go from Wollongong Coal, with the situation exacerbated after a longwall shearer became buried at its Wongawilli operations.

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