170 coal mine workers may lose jobs

UP TO 170 workers at Rio Tinto's Blair Athol coal mine near Clermont in Central Queensland have been told their jobs will likely disappear before December.

After mining the site for three decades, the multi-national giant has been progressively winding down the operation.

In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, Clermont operations general manager Dawid Pretorius said it was time for the mine to call it a day.

"Blair Athol Mine's coal seams are largely mined out and the time has come to finish production," he said.

Mr Pretorius said the 2012 closure had been tentatively in place since 2005, but low prices for Blair Athol's thermal coal - used to generate electricity - cemented the decision.

"Unfortunately, the recent significant drop in thermal coal prices, and other factors such as rising costs and the foreign exchange rate mean this is no longer a feasible option and we will keep to the original plan to finish production in 2012," Mr Pretorius said.

"The final day of production at Blair Athol Mine will depend on the progress of mining operations over coming months, but we expect it will be before December."

Of the 170 staff and contractors, 30 would be kept to run parts of the site will still be used by nearby Clermont Mine.

Workers will also be kept to help begin the giant task of rehabilitating the site.

According to Rio Tinto, the majority of workers have requested a redundancy deal, however Rio will also help employees to find other roles whether inside or outside of the company through its "My Future Plan" program.



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