THE world’s largest private sector coal company Peabody Energy has actioned a second round of Australian job cuts, dismissing 170 positions – or 5.7 per cent of its total workforce – due to challenging market conditions.
The cuts began on 22 July, and will reportedly affect all of the company’s Australian operations, including a total of eight projects in Queensland and three more in NSW.
The Missouri-based coal giant announced the news just one month after its first round of cuts – which saw 450 contractor positions removed from its Australian projects – citing a need to streamline operations though aggressive cost-cutting initiatives.
The company has cut more than 20 per cent of its workforce since the start of the year. Peabody stated that the move was made to align the company’s workforce size with other cost reduction activities, and to secure the long term competitiveness of its operations.
“This difficult decision has been made in response to near-term global economic challenges,” a company spokesperson said.
“We understand this decision affects our employees, families and their local communities, and we are supporting impacted employees and our workforce through this change.”
Peabody chief executive and chairman Greg Boyce laid some blame with Australia’s handling of its mining industry, stating that cost pressures, decreasing productivity and complex project approval requirements all acted to inhibit the progression of new coal projects.
The Australian reported that Peabody’s latest cuts took the total number of positions lost in the Australian coal industry this year to 11,000, taking into account job cuts by coal majors Xstrata and Rio Tinto.
Peabody released its June quarter results in late July reporting a 13 per cent decline in revenue. Within its US$1.73 billion total revenue, Australian sales amounted to 8.6 million tonnes of coal, including 4.1mt of metallurgical coal and 2.6mt of thermal coal.