Whitehaven Coal cuts 10 staff

Whitehaven Coal has cut 10 staff including its business development manager Peter Kane, a former chief executive for Nathan Tinkler's Aston Resources.

The company cited the need to cut costs in a struggling coal market and remain competitive for the decision to scale back its business development unit and Brisbane presence.

The company has exploration assets in Queensland.

"Whitehaven is not immune to the continued decline in global coal prices and like all coal companies we are having to make difficult decisions in order to ensure we have an appropriate cost base," Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty said.

"A very small number of technical services staff will remain in a relocated and smaller Brisbane office to ensure exploration projects are maintained and obligations to joint venture partners are met."

The announcement comes only weeks after Whitehaven announce it would close its Sunnyside mine, near Gunnedah, indefinitely, due to weaker coal prices.

There have been widespread job losses in coal mining in NSW and Queensland this year, with high costs and falling prices leading BHP Billiton and Xstrata to cut 900 jobs alone on one day in September and Peabody Energy also saying it would cut its Australian coal growth plans by half.

Australia is the world's leading coal exporter and coal is the nation's second biggest export after iron ore.

Peter Kane was Aston's interim chief executive at the time Whitehaven acquired the company in a $5.1 billion merger this year.

Mr Haggarty said the company's focus was on its existing mines and its new Maules Creek and Vickery projects, but it was confident of the long-term value of its development assets.

"As global coal prices improve we will continually revisit the status of our development plans," Mr Haggarty said.

Whitehaven's shares closed five cents weaker at $2.74, approaching record lows.

The share price has been under pressure, as major shareholder Mr Tinkler has publicly attacked management and tried to spill the board.

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