RIO Tinto is reportedly reviewing its commitment to the planned Mount Pleasant open-cut mine near Muswellbrook.
A front-page story in today’s Australian Financial Review says rising costs, labour shortages and falling coal prices are likely to lead Rio subsidiary Coal & Allied to opt against building the mine in the immediate future.
Rio is not commenting directly on the Mount Pleasant situation.
The mine has been on C&A’s books since 1992 and was formally approved in 2000.
The latest version of the Mount Pleasant plan has it employing about 350 people and producing 10.5million tonnes of thermal coal for export each year.
The Newcastle Herald reported this week that coal prices were falling below $US100 (about $95) a tonne for the first time since 2009.
Analysts are expecting prices to remain soft, with demand easing as supply increases from Australia and other thermal coal producing countries.
Such softening could have an impact on the planned expansion of the Hunter coal industry and the port of Newcastle.