The pain of mining austerity: 7000 Queensland coal jobs gone

Roughly 7000 coal sector jobs have disappeared from the Australian state of Queensland in just over a year, The Courier-Mail reported Saturday.

"New market realities" including collapsing commodity prices, slowing Asian demand and diminishing profits have prompted many of the world's mining giants to engage in rapid, drastic cost-cutting programs.

Cuts by Vale, Peabody and Glencore Xstrata have sent waves throughout the industry and into numerous services sectors, resulting in thousands of job losses.

Unsurprisingly, the mining companies are now targets of increasing resentment and criticism, particularly from mining unions.

Local union leaders in Queensland are calling the aggressive cuts "a shortsighted approach:"

"Since Glencore merged with Xstrata last month, the company had demonstrated a ruthless and short-term approach to cost-cutting," said vice president of CFMEU.

Over 1,000 coal mining jobs were cut last week alone in Australia’s coal sector, once one of the main drivers of Down Under’s earlier resource boom.

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, a key ingredient in steelmaking, have plummeted nearly 40% in the last year to roughly $130 per tonne.