Vale to Close Australian Mine; 500 Miners Laid-Off
Mining company Vale confirmed on Friday the closure of its Integra coal mine complex in eastern Australia due to the economic conditions of the coal market. 500 miners are expected to be out of work as Vale will end output of the mine and place it under “care and maintenance” status.
The company, which lost $480 million on its coal business in 2013, has faced immense pressure from investors to cut costs and streamline business better. Vale Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira had previously said he did not expect any mines would be closed.
The Integra complex, which includes the underground Glennies Creek and the Camberwell open cut mines, are operated by subsidiary Integra in NSW Hunter Valley.
The 500 lay-offs are reportedly the largest in history for the area and will have an enormous economic impact.
"We're talking all up about 500 jobs there, so that's going to have a massive impact on the Singleton and surrounding towns where most of those workers and their families live," Peter Jordan of the Construction Forestry Mining and energy Union told ABC.
Vale is taking drastic measures as coal prices have fallen by at least 30 percent in the past two years.
The Integra complex, which is located in New South Wales, produces about 4.5 million tons of coal per year from both its underground and open cut mine. The mine produces both metallurgical and thermal coal.
The coal sector in Australia has been hit hard as of late as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have also closed several coal mines recently, including BHP’s Norwich Park and Gregory operations in eastern Australia. In March, Glencore Xstrata closed its Ravensworth underground coal mine in Hunter Valley.
Zimbabwe targets £8.8bn mining industry by 2023
Zimbabwe’s government plans to fast-track exploration, evaluation and digitalisation of selected reserved mining areas under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development as part of wider measures to achieve a £8.8 billion mining industry by 2023, according to a senior government minister.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said other plans include stopping the issuance of special grants in the reserved areas under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development until the exploration and evaluation is complete and a robust value addition program for diamonds is implemented.
Mutsvangwa was speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing on December 15.
She adds that the issuance and renewal of special grants for energy should also be based on the financial and technical capacity to value add all types of coal, as well as for ideal exploration of Coal Bed Methane.
For renewal of special grants, consideration should take into account the period the Special Grant has been held as well as plans with milestones for value addition of the special grant, Mutsvangwa says. She adds that the Zimbabwean government expects gold to drive the mining sector in order to achieve the ambitious target, with the precious metal expected to contribute approximately £2.96 billion to the overall target.
Mining is one of Zimbabwe’s major contributors to its economy, alongside agriculture, which is the mainstay. The mining sector accounted for more than 60 percent of the country’s foreign currency receipts in 2019, and contributed around 16 percent to national Gross Domestic Product, the Chamber of Mines says.
The country’s mining industry is focused on a diverse range of small to medium mining operations. The most important minerals produced in Zimbabwe include gold, asbestos, chromite, coal and base metals.
Zimbabwe expects its economy to expand by 7.4 percent in 2021 from a projected contraction of 4.5 percent this year, due to the effects of drought and the COVID-19 global pandemic.
When presenting the 2021 National Budget in November this year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said that the mining sector is projected to rebound by 11 percent next year after surviving a COVID-19 induced shock that saw the sector contract by 4.7 percent in 2020. In September, mining bans in national parks were introduced, according to news agencies.
He added that the National Budget would allocate £1 billion towards the operations of the ministry for planning, promotion and exploration, data capturing, and automation, among other key mining processes.
Other factors necessary for the achievement of the £8.8 billion target include a stable macroeconomic environment, policy consistency, and availability of long-term capital to fund mining projects along the entire mineral value chain, the minister said.
Stopping "illicit financial flows" from gold smuggling is another key issue to address, according to media reports.