Stokes' WesTrac job cuts stoke mining sector woes

Hard on the heels of the heavy round of mining industry cuts, Kerry Stokes' mine services operator WesTrac is to cut about 350 jobs across New South Wales and the ACT.

Hard on the heels of the heavy round of mining industry cuts, Kerry Stokes' mine services operator WesTrac is to cut about 350 jobs across New South Wales and the ACT.

The company, a division of Seven Group Holdings, provides Caterpillar machinery, such as bulldozers and trucks, to the mining and building industries.

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

"It is anticipated that the restructure will result in approximately 350 redundancies across WesTrac's NSW and ACT business, which will be implemented in the next month at an approximate cost of $10 million," the company said.

WesTrac had already started cost cutting over the past eight months, but has had to do more.

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

Earlier this week, the coal industry saw more than 1000 jobs axed as miners reacted to low contract prices, weak demand and high costs.

Most exposed are the steaming coal producers in the Hunter Valley, along with some of the higher-cost operators in Queensland. At the same time, the industry's largest players, such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, are looking at selling some of their mines as part of moves aimed at reducing losses in the sector.

The deepening industry-wide cuts come as the federal government is considering either removing or reducing the size of the carbon tax, which may provide the industry with some relief.

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

The carbon price is fixed at $23, which is to rise to $24.15 on Monday and to $25.40 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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