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Glencore to lay off contractors at Australia's HVO mine on market downturn

11/16/2020 | 08:08pm EST

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Glencore, the world's biggest thermal coal trader, said on Monday it plans to lay off contractors at one if its coal operations in Australia's New South Wales state due to a prolonged market downturn.

Contractors at the Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) will depart next month, Glencore said in a statement. The miner holds a minority 49% stake of the joint venture with Yancoal, and manages the mine's communications.

"Hunter Valley Operations has initiated discussions with the mine's workforce on changes that will be made to the coal processing requirements from January 2021 as a result of ongoing economic and energy demand impact arising from the COVID-19 pandemic," Glencore said, without providing details about the number of contractors who would be made redundant.  

"The changes will not impact HVO's permanent workforce numbers but some contracting roles in the mining, coal preparation and maintenance areas will not be required under the revised production plan." 

In August, the miner and commodity trader said it was taking steps to manage its coal production profile, including temporary site and equipment shutdowns at a number of its Australian operations, to coincide with September school holidays.

Contractors at its nine other operations in the region have not been impacted.

Some higher-cost coal mines have closed or curtailed business in the past 18 months, as prices tanked after power users switched to cheaper natural gas, and COVID-19 hammered demand.

Consultancy AME Group rates HVO as the second-highest cost operation in the region at around $56 a tonne, in line with current coal prices. The region's highest-cost mine is BHP Group Mount Arthur, which has been on the block for most of this year but has failed to sell so far.

Coal prices in Newcastle have climbed off 12-year lows of around $46 a tonne plumbed in September to about $55.88 a tonne. They are still well below cycle peaks of $120 hit in 2018.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Kenneth Maxwell)

© Reuters 2020
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BHP GROUP 1.56% 47.02 End-of-day quote.10.82%
GLENCORE PLC -1.36% 276.5 Delayed Quote.18.67%
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