AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Queensland infrastructure not to blame for job cuts

<p>Queensland transport minister Paul Lucas has been forced to defend the state’s infrastructure against coal producer claims that mines are being closed because of bottlenecks.</p> <p>Anglo Coal and Macarthur Coal have reportedly cut about 170 jobs in the last month because they cannot export coal at the same rate as they are mining it. </p> <p>It follows ongoing complaints from the coal industry that long vessel queues at east coast coal ports is costing millions of dollars a day in demurrage.</p> <p>Some coal producers feared that expansion of Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal would temporarily restrict exports and put more pressure on the bottom line.</p> <p>Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche joined the chorus yesterday (Monday, August 20), warning that more jobs would be lost.</p> <p>"It’s certainly a very unfortunate situation that the workforce has to suffer the consequences of infrastructure bottlenecks," Mr Roche told the ABC. </p> <p>"The resources council does not take any pleasure out of that situation but the bottom line is, for the companies, they simply can’t keep stockpiling coal at the rate they have been." </p> <p>But Mr Lucas said the redundancies stemmed from restructures to the workforce, rather than infrastructure bottlenecks.</p> <p>Weather delays had also contributed to some of the congestion.</p> <p>&#8220Our understanding is that Macarthur Coal is moving away from operating the mine under a contracting basis towards an owner operator status, and that this move is the major factor behind the redundancies," Mr Lucas said.</p> <p>Mr Lucas said QR had told him that it was delivering coal at a rate that &#8220substantially exceeded&#8221 its contract obligations from the Coppabella and Moorvale mines where the job cuts have occurred.</p> <p>"Current committed expenditure by port government-owned corporations and QR on coal transport infrastructure is around $2.9bn,&#8221 he said. </p> <p>"Further private sector investments of $1.5bn is underway at the two privately owned coal terminals at Hay Point and DBCT. </p> <p>"That’s $4.4bn worth of current investment &#8211 with not one dollar coming from the Federal Government."</p> <p>The Queensland Government is citing the report conducted by former Pacific National boss Stephen O’Donnell as evidence that its fully-owned rail operator is not the sole cause of congestion.</p> <p>Mr Lucas compared coal tonnages from 1988&#4789 with total throughput in Queensland today.</p> <p>&#8220Nearly 20 years ago, Queensland exported 59m tonnes of coal,&#8221 Mr Lucas said.</p> <p>&#8220In 2006&#4707, coal exports rose to approx 153m tonnes &#8211 an increase of almost 150% since 1988&#4789 and a 30% increase since 2001." </p> <p>Queensland opposition leader Jeff Seeney called on the State Government to end blame-shifting.</p> <p>"You’ve got 10 years of Government inaction and it’s going to take time to rectify and people are going to be hurt in the time it takes to rectify those years of inaction,&#8221 Mr Seeney told the ABC. </p> <br />