Job cuts in Australia’s coal sector climb to 11,000

Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) tipped the job cutting balance in the coal sector a bit further Tuesday as the US giant announced it is axing another 170 employees, about 5.7% of its total workforce at its Australian operations.

The company, which is the world's largest private-sector coal miner, added it would not fill 230 vacancies in the country, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The news, part of the firm’s results for the second quarter of 2013, come only weeks after the miner cut around 450 contractor jobs, adding to the massive lay offs by Glencore Xstrata (LON: GLEN) and Brazilian mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) the previous months.

Despite the gloomy message, the company — US largest coal producer— reported a surprise second-quarter profit driven by increasing demand from local power utilities.

With Peabody’s latest job cuts in the sector, hit by low commodity prices and high costs, the total positions lost in the coal mining industry over the past year hit more than 11,000.

According to analyst, the figure may triple in the short future as more miners defer projects and cut down costs.

Early this month PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published a report commissioned by New South Wales Minerals Council, which shows Australia’s coal sector may actually lose more than 30,000 mining jobs and over $9.5bn in investments.

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

Click here to see Peabody’s Q2 financial report.