Dysart's hammer blow
THE word on the street in the mining town of Dysart for the past couple of weeks was that Norwich Park, just 23km away, was in danger of closing.
But when the news was confirmed by BMA asset president Stephen Dumble it came as a hammer blow.
"We had heard talk about it... we were hoping they would be able to keep it open," Dysart businesswoman Elizabeth Fox said yesterday.
The owner of a pizza shop in the middle of town, about 250km west of Mackay, Ms Fox described the news as another blow for the Dysart community, which has been struggling to cope in recent years because of the two-speed economy.
Mr Dumble blamed the accumulative effects of flooding, a high Aussie dollar and industrial strike action for the closure of Norwich Park mine, which will occur on May 11.
He said the company would try to redeploy the entire mine's 1300 workers, including a permanent workforce of about 490.
Some would go to work at nearby Saraji Mine, to other BMA operations or be offered redundancies.
Mr Dumble said the company had not made the decision lightly.
"The mine has been losing money for months," he said.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union district president Steve Smyth said members were surprised to hear the news.
"We were only told about half and hour before the company made the official announcement," he said.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive officer Michael Roche acknowledged the difficulties the mine's closure would have on the mining town as well as the Queensland economy.
"The cessation of production at Norwich Park coal mine is clearly a concerning development for the affected workers, their families and the Dysart community," Mr Roche said.
"The situation at this Bowen Basin mine is a salutary reminder to politicians, employees, communities and a multitude of interest groups that it is simply not possible to keep loading more and more costs onto mining operations without consequences," Mr Roache said.
"It is also a stark example of the lasting legacy for the state's coal mines of the 2010-11 wet seasons."
Mr Dumble said it was a sad time for the company but the mine's closure should not be seen as an omen for further company disruption.
"A silver lining, if there is any, would be that BMA is a strong company and we will be able to source employment for our workers," he said.
Employers had worked hard to the restore the mine after it was battered by the 2011 wet season, Mr Dumble said.
He also said the open-cut coal mine had vast resources but at the moment it was more a question of whether it could operate sustainably.
Ms Fox said the closure of the mine would have a direct impact on her business.
"A lot of my staff are teenagers, they're from mining families and their parents work in the mines," she said.
"The wives of the miners all work in the town as well."