Glencore Xstrata cuts coal production at Aussie mines, slashes 450 jobs

Glencore Xstrata (LON: GLEN) became Thursday the latest firm to slash hundreds of coal-mining jobs in Australia as the industry faces lower prices, high costs, excess supply and weak demand.

The company, which started the week laying off around 46 employees at its Ravensworth coal mine, has also decided to scale back operations at its Newlands and Oaky Creek mines.

According to Australian Mining, the company said the drastic measure was taken to “ensure the viability in what continues to be a challenging market.”

Also this week, Aquila Resources (ASX, TSX: AQA) announced it was construction of its Eagle Downs coal project in Queensland, while US-based Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) cut 450 contract jobs at its mines in Queensland and NSW.

In total, over 1,000 coal mining jobs have been cut this week alone in Australia’s coal sector, once one of the main drivers of Down Under’s earlier resource boom.

All the companies blame coal prices for their decisions. Thermal coal, used for power generation, has dropped more than 30% in the last two years to around $80 per tonne. And prices for coking coal, key ingredient for steelmaking, have dived nearly 40% in the last year to roughly $130 per tonne.

The country's coal industry employs more than 55,000 people directly and 100,000 indirectly, mostly in regional Australia.

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