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BHP cuts 300 jobs as Qld coal mine shuts


Nearly 300 coal miners have lost their jobs after BHP Billiton announced it would stop production at its Queensland Gregory open-cut mine.

The decision by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) came after an operational review found the 33-year-old open-cut mine was no longer profitable.

Coking and thermal coal prices have been falling while high costs and a strong Australian dollar have also impacted on the mine, BHP said in a statement on Monday.

The job cuts affect 55 direct employees and 242 contractors, a BHP spokesman said.

Production will stop on October 10, when the mine will be put on a care and maintenance program, meaning it could re-open if conditions improve.

BMA's mines in Queensland's Bowen Basin were the scene of industrial action, including strikes, earlier this year over an enterprise bargaining agreement offer.

BMA Asset president Stephen Dumble said production costs for the open-cut Gregory mine currently exceed the revenue from product sales, and therefore the only option available to the company was to cease production.

"We understand that this decision will have an impact on our employees, their families and the Emerald community," he said in a statement.

"We will work closely with our workforce and look for opportunities to redeploy affected employees to other BMA operations."

The adjacent Crinum underground mine will continue to operate along with the Gregory Coal Handling Preparation Plant.

BMA would continue to review its remaining portfolio of assets to ensure that each operation can be cost competitive and profitable across the price cycle, he said.

Production also stopped at BHP Billiton's loss-making Norwich Park coal mine in central Queensland in May.