Peabody plans to cut around 450 contractor jobs, while Glencore Xstrata will lay off around 46 employees at its Ravensworth coal mine.
Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said today the outlook was grim for mining as companies adapt to lower prices and weakening demand.
Prices for thermal coal, used for power generation, have fallen over 30 per cent in the last two years to around $US80 per tonne, while prices for coking coal, used for steelmaking, have dropped about 40 per cent in the last year to around $US130 per tonne.
“(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.
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 per cent, 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 tonnes 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.
“It does look pretty grim, certainly for the thermal coal industry,” Mr Cutifani said in a speech to a mining industry forum in Canberra today.
Anglo is cutting jobs and halting production at its Aquila coal mine in Central Queensland.
“In the past 12 months alone, close to 9000 mining jobs have been lost in New South Wales and Queensland,” Mr Cutifani said. “Based on current press coverage, those numbers look like they are about to rapidly increase.”
Cutifani, who replaced his predecessor Cynthia Carroll in April, said mining companies in Australia were still adjusting to a “slowdown in demand for commodities and lower prices.”
“We need a united plan of attack to counter this,” Mr Cutifani said.
Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest mining company, has cut about 40 managers and senior staff in its iron ore division in Western Australia, as it seeks to cut $US2 billion in costs this year across its mining and corporate offices.