Coal-mining job cuts expected in response to global glut

Hundreds of coal-mining jobs are at risk as Peabody Energy Corp and Glencore Xstrata seek to cut jobs as a global glut in supply pushes down prices.

Hundreds of coal-mining jobs are at risk as Peabody Energy Corp and Glencore Xstrata seek to cut jobs as a global glut in supply pushes down prices.

Peabody plans to cut about 450 contractor jobs, while Glencore Xstrata will lay off about 46 employees at its Ravensworth coalmine in the Hunter Valley.

Engineering and mining services company Downer EDI will cut 185 jobs from the Goonyella Riverside coalmine in Queensland.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani told a forum in Canberra the outlook was grim as mining companies adapted to lower prices and weakening demand.

Prices for thermal coal, used for power generation, have fallen more than 30 per cent in the past two years to about $US80 a tonne, while prices for coking coal, used for steel making, have dropped about 40 per cent in the past year to about $US130 a tonne.

Peabody said the cuts would take place across its operations in the coal-rich eastern states of Queensland and New South Wales, where it produces both coking and thermal coal.

Xstrata's job cuts would reduce Ravensworth's mine workforce by about 26 per cent, with about 130 employees remaining.

The company said the cuts were in response to "tough" conditions caused by low coal prices, high costs and a high Australian dollar.

Ravensworth general manager Tony Galvin said the decision reflected the commercial realities faced by the mine. "We are making tough decisions to remain viable during these challenging economic times," Mr Galvin said. The mine produced about 2.2 million tonnes of mostly coking coal last year.

Glencore Xstrata has cut about 700 jobs since late last year, about 100 more jobs than it said it planned to eliminate.

"It does look pretty grim, certainly for the thermal coal industry," Mr Cutifani said.