STRONGER coal prices have added more than 1000 mining jobs to the Hunter Valley, the Minerals Council of NSW says after the release of new employment statistics by industry body Coal Services.
Minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said the extra employment was generated by a strong turnaround in prices and steady demand for Hunter coal from key export markets.
Mr Galilee said Coal Services recorded 13,138 coalmining jobs in the Newcastle and Hunter coal fields in December 2017, an increase of 1085 on the December 2016 figures.
In a sign of the industry’s recently increased profitability, the New Hope Corporation – which owns NSW and Queensland mining interests including a 40 per cent stake in the Bengalla open-cut near Muswellbrook – recorded what it said was “the best half-year result in the company’s history” on Monday, with Bengalla contributing a before-tax profit of more than $83 million.
In a statement to the stock exchange, New Hope said this profit was made on 1.9 million tonnes of coal. This indicates a before-tax profit of more than $30 a tonne.
It credited a new enterprise agreement as one of the reasons for Bengalla’s success.
On the employment front, Coal Services put the statewide total of mine jobs at 20,872, the highest level since July 2014, when the total was 21,114.
The recent peak of employment in this era came in June 2012, when Coal Services reported 24,989 mineworkers across the state.
In the past year, job numbers on the Newcastle and Gunnedah coal fields were relatively steady, with most of the extra jobs in Hunter Valley mines around Singleton and Muswellbrook.