May 22, 2014 / 3:50 AM / 4 years ago

Glencore to shut Australian Newlands underground coal mine in 2015

MELBOURNE, May 22 (Reuters) - Glencore Plc will close its Newlands underground coal mine in Australia in late 2015, opting not to extend the life of the mine amid a slump in coal prices, the Swiss-based mining and commodities group said on Thursday.

Newlands is the latest victim in a round of production cuts, mine closures and project cancellations in Australia, with thermal coal prices stuck at 4-1/2-year lows and the Australian dollar remaining stubbornly high.

The underground mine, which produced 2.75 million tonnes of thermal coal last year, will reach the end of its life in the fourth quarter of 2015, Glencore said.

Ahead of that, development work at the mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin will end in June 2014, leading to the loss of about 50 jobs, or a quarter of the underground mine’s workforce.

Glencore did not say what will happen to the remaining 150 jobs, but said it has begun consulting with staff about the closure plan.

The company recently suspended operations at its Ravensworth underground mine due to a combination of weak prices, high production costs, a strong Australian dollar and geological challenges in future mining areas. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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