More than 400 workers at Melbourne-based BHP Billiton coking coalmines began strikes on Tuesday for the first time in a decade, disrupting production from the world’s largest exporter and adding to the woes of an industry already hard hit by summer floods.
Analysts believe the industrial action, added to the 15% cut in annual production caused by monsoon rains and a cyclone, will support rampant prices for steel-making coal which hit an all-time high in April of $330 per tonne.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said, about 3,500 workers would participate in rolling six-hour stoppages at different sites owned by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. BMA mines have a combined production capacity of more than 58 million tonnes per year
Coal is Australia’s largest export and exports of metallurgical coal accounts for A$24.5 billion of the nation’s A$202.17 billion in total goods exports last year, according to government data.