Mining industry defends massive job cuts

BIG MACHINES: Earthmoving equipment will be on its way to Hervey Bay soon. AAP Images
BIG MACHINES: Earthmoving equipment will be on its way to Hervey Bay soon. AAP Images

INDUSTRY groups have defended the actions of mining companies which sacked more than 1000 workers in the past seven days, blaming government over-regulation and depressed market conditions.

This pushed Queensland's job losses for the past 15 months to more than 7000, representing more than half of the 11,000 jobs purportedly lost across the coal industry nationwide.

Across all mining sectors, ABS figures reportedly point to 26,000 jobs disappearing since May 2012.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said these blows to industry were being partially absorbed by the strength of Queensland's gas sector.

He said mine companies were moving quickly to cut costs - including staff costs - because the cost of production and the price of coal were now "line ball".

Mr Roche quoted former Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who in May said the only reason mines were still operating was because contractual obligations made it cheaper than putting them on hiatus.

"I just hope we're able to keep those mines open and keep places such as the Hunter Valley and the Bowen Basin going," Mr Ferguson said at the time.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitch Hooke said job losses showed Australia was losing its reputation as a safe bet for investors.

Mr Hooke said poor policy and Australia being labelled a risky place to do business were adding to problems already caused by rising costs and lower productivity.

"If Australia is to continue to enjoy the benefits of the mining boom, we must acknowledge our drifting international competitiveness and set about remedying the problem," Mr Hooke said.

He said this would require "removing road blocks" and changing the message from sharing the boom, to growing the industry.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union is running a campaign called "The mining boom: let's spread it around".

Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray and Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney have each said poor market conditions were having the largest impact on Queensland and Australia's mining industry, with government policy a secondary concern.

Topics:  abs employment job cuts mining mining industry

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