(Corrects to show Peabody mine in New South Wales state, not
Queensland, in first paragraph)
PERTH Oct 14 Peabody Energy said on
Monday it had temporarily shut down operations at its
Metropolitan coal mine in New South Wales, Australia,
pre-empting a planned strike by workers after a stand-off over a
new employment contract.
The mine, which produced 1.9 million tonnes of coking coal
in 2012 and employs about 330 workers, was shut on Sunday and
will restart operations on Tuesday, Peabody said in an emailed
Wages were a big sticking point in reaching a new employment
agreement, according to the labour union involved.
"Mineworkers just want to see this dispute resolved and
they've demonstrated this by making numerous concessions during
negotiations ... Members have agreed to pay freezes in the next
12 months," Bob Timbs, a spokesman for the Construction,
Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said in a statement.
Peabody would not comment on any employee concessions,
saying the company was still negotiating with workers and wanted
an agreement "which reflects current market conditions, lifts
productivity, reduces costs, enhances safety and provides
greater job security for Metropolitan mine employees".
Peabody and other global coal miners are trying to slash
operating costs because of a drop in coal prices and a global
oversupply of the commodity.
Spot coking coal prices dipped this week to around $147 per
tonne from nearly $150 last week, according to UBS. They have
fallen from a high for the year of around $170 per tonne in
February but are above the low of around $130 in July.
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Alan Raybould)