Australian coal industry to slash 900 jobs

Australia's coal miners are slashing 900 jobs against a backdrop of declining commodities prices and higher costs.

Fairfax Press reports that Xstrata Coal will be retrenching 600 workers with further cuts possible and BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) has slashed 300 positions following the closure of its Gregory Crinum coal mine in Queensland.

Australia's coal miners are now confronting the same troubles as the country's beleaguered iron ore players, with operating costs rising as commodities prices plunge.

BHP said a review had "determined that the Gregory open-cut mine production was no longer profitable in the current economic environment of falling prices, high costs and a strong Australian dollar."

Xstrata also cited the same culprits, imputing the job cuts to "low coal prices, high input costs and a strong Australian dollar against the US dollar."

Analysts expect further hard times for the coal industry with a possible slowdown in China as well as a push by China towards alternative energy sources.

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