350 jobs to go as WesTrac wields axe

Hard on the heels of the heavy round of mining industry cuts, Kerry Stokes' mine services operator, WesTrac, is to cut an estimated 350 jobs across NSW and the ACT.

Hard on the heels of the heavy round of mining industry cuts, Kerry Stokes' mine services operator, WesTrac, is to cut an estimated 350 jobs across NSW and the ACT.

The company, a division of Seven Group Holdings, provides Caterpillar machinery such as bulldozers and trucks to miners and builders.

WesTrac blamed "challenging market conditions" for the job cuts.

"It is anticipated that the restructure will result in approximately 350 redundancies across WesTrac's NSW-ACT business which will be implemented in the next month at an approximate cost of $10 million," the company said. WesTrac had introduced cost-cutting initiatives over the past eight months, but has had to take further steps.

Across Australia, WesTrac has more than 3500 employees, primarily in Western Australia and NSW.

This week more than 1000 jobs were lost in the coal industry as miners reacted to low contract prices, weak demand and high costs.

Most exposed are steaming coal producers in the Hunter Valley, along with some of the higher cost operators in Queensland.

At the same time, the largest companies in the industry, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, are seeking to sell some mines as part of moves aimed at reducing losses in the sector. The deepening industry-wide cuts come as the federal government considers either removing or reducing the size of the carbon tax, which may provide some relief.

However, since many of the coal industry's pressures stem from rising competitive pressure from the US and Indonesia in export markets, any impact from changes to the carbon tax may be minimal.

The carbon price is fixed at $23 a tonne, which will rise to $24.15 a tonne on Monday and $25.40 a tonne from July 2014.

A decision on a faster transition to a floating carbon price is expected as soon as next week.

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