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Peabody, Glencore Xstrata slash Australian coal mining jobs

PERTH (Reuters) - Peabody Energy Corp and Glencore Xstrata will cut around 500 mining jobs in Australia, a company official and trade publication said on Tuesday, as a global glut in coal supply pushes down prices.

Peabody plans to cut around 450 contractor jobs, while Glencore Xstrata will lay off around 46 employees at its Ravensworth coal mine.

Prices for thermal coal, used for power generation, have fallen over 30 percent in the last two years to around $80 per metric ton (1.1023 tons), while prices for coking coal, used for steelmaking, have dropped about 40 percent in the last year to around $130 per metric ton.

"(Contractors have) traditionally been an area of high spend for the company and as a result we will be reducing approximately 450 contractor positions at our mines over the coming weeks," Peabody president Charles Meintjes was quoted as saying by industry publication Australian Mining.

A Peabody spokeswoman was not available for comment.

Peabody said the cuts would take place across its operations in the coal-rich eastern Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales, where it produces both coking and thermal coal.

Xstrata's job cuts would reduce Ravensworth's mine workforce by about 26 percent, with around 130 employees remaining.

A company spokesman, who asked not be named, said the layoffs would trim back production at the mine, but did not give any specific figures. The mine produced around 2.2 million metric tons of mostly coking coal last year.

Glencore Xstrata has cut around 700 jobs since late last year, about 100 more jobs than it said it planned to eliminate late last year.

(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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