Finance Minister Penny Wong said on Friday that the Wednesday
announcement by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (
) that it would close its Norwich Park coking coal mine in
Queensland is not an indicator of the state of the mining
industry in Australia.
BMA decided to indefinitely close the mine after a seven-week
review which failed to find ways to return the operation to
profitability. The heavy losses suffered by the joint venture
were due to the 2011 floods, lower coal prices and soaring cost
It was partly also caused by the prolonged labour row that
lasted for 16 months. The closure would displace almost 500
The Opposition has insisted that the mining tax and carbon tax
would make Australia's mining sector less competitive in the
global arena, worsened by the growing restiveness of employees
over work conditions.
However, Ms Wong belied the Coalition's charge.
"Since the mining tax was announced (and) since the carbon
price was announced we've still seen continued investment in
mining," Sky News quoted Ms Wong.
She said that in the past three years, investments in mining
rose to $120 billion from $47 billion which is a substantial
amount and are considered the best arguments against accusations
that Gillard government policies are deterrents to
Besides announcing the closure of the Norwich Park mines, BHP
declared a force majeure and warned customers it could not meet
all orders due to the bad weather and industrial dispute.
However, the issue is not over pay because BMA offered a 5 per
cent yearly salary adjustment for the next three years. The
unions are instead against BHP's call to make safety tests a
management decision and not members', resistance to the union's
proposal to have a third break for the night shift and change in
the use of contractors.
"If BHP were entirely open and honest about what's at the
heart of this dispute, it would concede that, from a cost
perspective, it wants to move its established hard-coking
coalmines from fundamentally residential-based employment to
fundamentally commuter-based employment," The Australian
quoted Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union General
Secretary for Mining and Energy Andrew Vickers.