"Our regional resource communities have been doing it tough and positive developments like this reverberate through the whole community and local businesses.” agnormark

BREAKING: Bowen Basin coal mine to fire again, 200 jobs

ONE of Queensland's oldest coal mines, at Collinsville, is resuming production and hiring again, according to a statement from the State Government.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham have welcomed Glencore's move to recommence operations and hire up to 200 people at its joint venture open cut mine near Bowen.

"This is yet another piece of positive news for the north and ongoing evidence of green shoots appearing in the resources sector,” the Premier said.

"It's been encouraging to see these green shoots appearing over the past few months, showing in both global prices and within the industry itself in Queensland.”

>> READ MORE | Confidence 'bouncing' as Glencore announces 200 jobs

>> READ MORE | Special report: The changing landscape in the Bowen Basin

At the end of September the Daily Mercury reported there were rumours Glencore was looking to ramp up production, the speculation fuelled by the employment of a number of local residents.

However, at the time, a Glencore spokesman said the company does not comment on rumour relating to individual coal operations.

In December 2015 the company outlined plans to cut 180 jobs from the workforce of 230, on the back of dwindling coal prices. 

This time last year, coking coal was fetching about $75 a tonne. Now, with supply being cut in China, coal prices have increased to about $200 a tonne.

Coal has been mined at Collinsville for almost 100 years.

Big year ahead

THERE may still be caution in the mining services industry, but there is an expectation that 2017 will be a better year.

The news that Glencore is starting production and re-employing 200 workers has built up some confidence in the coalfields.

Resource Industry Network chairman Tony Caruso said mines moving into full production was always good for the service industries.

"Just the other day I was told there was 11 companies on job notice boards looking for employees. I haven't seen that for a long time,” he said.

"This last downward cycle has been unprecedented.”

Mr Caruso said it was difficult to know when or if this turn in the cycle would benefit network members quickly.

"It's a hard one to answer, because the miners deferred so much of their maintenance because of the low prices,” he said.

"We are starting to see some activity and this really could be the tip of the iceberg.”

But Mr Caruso said businesses were being cautious about investing in capital to avoid falling into financial difficulty.

"Don't get me wrong this higher coal price is welcome, but we will see if it can be sustained. The fundamentals haven't changed,” he said.

He expected there to be a slower increase in economic activity, as many of the more established companies learnt valuable lessons from the last boom.

Increased demand

In a statement released on Tuesday, Glencore said while they had scaled back production at Collinsville this year, they had "continued to assess a range of options for the mine in conjunction with monitoring coal market demand”.

"We are now seeing increased demand from South-East Asia for the specific type of coal produced by Collinsville,” the statement said.

Tony Galvin, head of Glencore's open cut coal business in Queensland, acknowledged that the last three years had resulted in some difficult decisions being made at Collinsville in order to maintain the long-term viability of the mine.

"Our Collinsville mine has made material progress in increasing operational efficiencies and reducing costs in the current market and the decision to return to production is positive news for the local community and the wider region,” he said.

This year there has been a focus on rehabilitation work and management of mine water, the statement said.

"We have also continued to support a number of community initiatives, including the funding of a revitalisation master plan that aims to increase tourism in Collinsville and surrounding areas,” it read.

"Production at Collinsville is not expected to increase Glencore's overall coal export tonnes from Australia given the recent closures of our underground mines at Newlands and West Wallsend.”

What Member for Burdekin Dale Last said

"About 200 people are expected to be employed at Collinsville's open cut mine which is excellent news for the Collinsville community,” Mr Last said.

"Glencore today has informed me that in terms of hiring employees, that it will be a merit based recruitment process.

"The company has indicated that it will look to hire locally; that there will be a mix of contractor/employees and also likely to be some drive in drive out.

"Overall this means jobs for Collinsville. I have stressed to Glencore how important it is that the employment of locals needs to be considered a priority in the recruitment process.

"Operations are expected to ramp up before the end of the year, and hopefully it'll be a shot in the arm for local families ahead of Christmas.”

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