130 mine jobs cut from Newstan 

AT least 130 contract mining jobs are going from Centennial Coal’s Newstan mine as the Thai-owned company looks to cut costs by putting projects including a major mine expansion on hold.

 The job cuts come as Centennial’s parent company, Banpu, has begun to feel the impact of the global downturn in coal prices, with its share price having halved since it bought Centennial in 2010 for $2.5billion.

They follow the recent retrenchment of about 18 staff and supervisors’ jobs from Rio Tinto’s Bengalla mine at Muswellbrook.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, which represents most workers in the industry, said the Centennial job cuts by Mackay-based contractor Mastermyne were handled as well as could be expected.

But Newstan mineworkers have told of contractors being called out of their shifts to be told their jobs were going immediately.

‘‘This was after they’d told us that everyone, Centennial and Mastermyne, were all on the one footing,’’ one employee said yesterday.

Complaints from Centennial workers apparently led to a change in policy, with the bulk of the Mastermyne workers now departing later this month or early in January.

Mastermyne managing director Tony Caruso told the Newcastle Herald yesterday that 100 mineworkers and 30 staff were losing their jobs as a result of a review of operations by Centennial.

He said it was too early to tell if Mastermyne would return to Centennial.

‘‘What we do know is that all labour will cease to be required on site from approximately the end of January,’’ Mr Caruso said.

He acknowledged that Mastermyne’s share price had almost halved since April but said that all coal companies were feeling the pinch.

Centennial spokeswoman Katie Brassil said rising costs and falling prices had led the company to rearrange its operations.

Mannering underground near Fassifern, which had traditionally been a difficult mine to keep profitable, had been closed into ‘‘care and maintenance’’.

This meant it could be reopened if required, as had happened with Newstan, which shut in 2009. 

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