BHP Billiton slashes jobs at Olympic Dam mine

BHP Billiton is cutting dozens of jobs at its Olympic Dam mine in the South Australian outback, but it is unclear exactly how many positions will go.

At least 60 employees and an unknown number of contractors will lose their jobs.

In a statement, BHP Billiton said a reduction in functional and operational roles at Olympic Dam was necessary and would affect employees and contractors.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill told State Parliament he was waiting to get more detailed information about the job losses.

"We were of course disappointed to learn today of the suggestion that a number of jobs would be lost at BHP and I understand the reasoning behind this is for the company to find efficiencies in their operation on sustained low commodity prices and the high Australian dollar," he said.

BHP Billiton also shed 140 local jobs last August.

The Chamber of Mines and Energy said job losses were inevitable in the short-term in the mining industry.

Chamber CEO Jason Kuchel says companies are under great financial pressures.

"BHP Billiton and many other companies are needing to go through a process of reducing their costs to remain internationally competitive," he said.

"At the present time Australia is right up there at the highest end of the cost curve.

"It's absolutely critical that those companies continue to be able to be profitable.

If they're not, they won't be able to remain open." Roxby Downs Council in the far north of SA said the job cuts at the Olympic Dam mine were disappointing, but a part of the cyclical nature of mining.

Council administrator Bill Boehm said he was confident the jobs would return.

"When BHP took over, the jobs increased ...

generally the jobs level was pretty stagnant for a number of years or certainly they moved up and down but the population was fairly stagnant.

BHP came along and it increased as a result and now it's gone back," he said.

"It probably hasn't gone back to levels it was before."

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