Rio Tinto, Xstrata to slash over 100 coal jobs each

Giant miners Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) and Xstrata (LON:XTA) are expected to cut up to 100 jobs each later this week in their coal divisions as the industry continues to suffer from weak prices, rising costs and the high dollar.

Rio’s move, reported by The Australian but not confirmed by the company, marks the latest by new CEO Sam Walsh to improve the company's balance sheet.

Rio is currently focused mostly on its coal, uranium and aluminum units as part of an austerity program first announced in April 2012. Those three units have been told to find nearly two-thirds of the $5 billion worth of annual savings the diversified miner is seeking to free-up.

Swiss miner Xstrata became Tuesday the latest coal producer to announce cost cuts. According to The Age, the company will consolidate its NSW and Queensland divisions and close its Brisbane office, where most head office job losses will be felt.

Rio and Xstrata are not the only miners rethinking their coal business in Australia. Last week reports emerged that Brazilian giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) had appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to sell minority stakes in two Australian coal projects, the Belvedere and Eagle Downs deposits.