Vale fires 500 coal miners in Australia, shuts down operations

Vale fires 500 coal miners in Australia, shuts down operations

Vale operations in Australia, courtesy of Integra.

Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE) confirmed Friday it is closing its Integra Mine Complex in Australia, as the coal operation is not economically feasible under current market conditions.

The affected mines are the underground Glennies Creek and the Camberwell open cut, operated by subsidiary Integra in NSW Hunter Valley.

According to Newcastle Herald, employees were told that while operations would be shut down, facilities would be maintained.

In a brief statement (in Portuguese) Vale said its joint venture partners at Integra Coal mine unanimously supported the decision.

Peter Jordan of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union told ABC the news came as a shock, adding the mine closure will have a huge economic impact.

“We’re talking all up about 500 jobs there, so that’s going to have a massive impact on the Singleton and surrounding towns where most of those workers and their families live,” he was quoted as saying.

Coal prices have fallen by at least 30% in the past two years, forcing miners to take drastic measures.

In March, mining and commodity trader giant Glencore Xstrata (LON:GLEN) said it will close its Ravensworth underground coal mine, also in Australia’s Hunter Valley, in September this year, citing falling prices and stock surplus as main reasons.

BHP Billiton, which through its partnership with Mitsubishi Corp. is the world’s largest coking-coal exporter, has also closed several mines recently, including its Norwich Park and Gregory operations in eastern Australia because of weak prices.

The Australian economy is highly dependent on the black rock: coal is Australia’s second-biggest export commodity and the industry is one of the country’s largest employers.

 Cover image by Daniel M. Silva/

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