Rio Tinto cuts more jobs at coal operations

Mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) has announced more job cuts across its coal mines in Queensland as the state raises its royalty rates and the commodity’s price continues to fall.

"A review is underway and although the details are to be worked out, it will unfortunately mean redundancies will be required,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson said in July.

Although the diversified miner didn’t say just how many jobs would axe, ABC news reports the lay-offs will be only at the company’s coal operations.

The company warned last week that the Queensland Government's decision to raise the royalty rate would directly impact its operations.

“We are shocked, surprised and very disappointed by the size of the royalty increase … [which] will further endanger jobs and investment in the coal industry,” said Rio Tinto Coal's managing director, Bill Champion.

The Anglo-Australian miner has been conducting a cost review across its global business, resulting in corporate and operational changes. Recently the diversified miner hinted at its intention of leaving several aluminum related businesses, including a bauxite mine, an alumina refinery and several smelters in Australia and New Zealand.

Rio is also looking at selling some or all of its diamond mines, which currently include three operations: the 100%-owned Argyle in Australia, 60%-owned Diavik in northern Canada, and Murowa in Zimbabwe of which it has a 78% interest.

Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) President, Steve Smyth, told ABC News miners are putting profits before their employees.

"I think the industry is taking the opportunity to trim some of the fat so they maintain the bottom line of the huge, enormous profits they're earning," he said.

Rio Tinto operates a number coal mines in central Queensland, including Blair Athol near Clermont, and Kestrel near Emerald.

Other than a mine in Mozambique, Australia is the only country in the world where Rio Tinto operates coal mines.

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