BHP chooses to keep Australian coal mine

Mining giant BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE: BHP) (LON: BLT) has decided against selling its struggling Gregory Crinum coal complex in Queensland, Australia, after failing to land a suitable buyer.

The mine is one of the several assets the world’s No.1 miner has been seeking to offload amid a slump in commodity prices.

BHP closed the loss-making Gregory open-cut mine last year, when coal prices began to plunge, but the Crinum underground mine remains open.

In a statement emailed to Reuters, BHP said the decision comes after a strategic review of its jointly owned operation with partner Mitsubishi, showed that keeping the asset offered the best option for shareholders.

Andrew Mackenzie, who took over as CEO in May, has said coal continues to be one of BHP’s core commodities, but investment will increasingly be directed toward other business areas that are now more profitable.

Last year the company ditched nearly $40 billion in projects and closed some of its struggling coal mines.

Australia’s coal sector has been hit hard by the slump of coal prices. Over 11,000 people have lost their jobs over the past year and, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report commissioned by New South Wales Minerals Council, the industry may actually lose more than 30,000 coal mining jobs and over $9.5bn in investments.

Coal mining in Australia employs more than 55,000 people directly and 100,000 indirectly.