May 8, 2019
Seventy jobs will be lost at Tarong’s Meandu Mine on July 1 when the Downer-operated coal mine drops to a three excavator-and-truck fleet operation.
The last time Meandu operated with just three fleets was when Tarong Power Station had two generating units mothballed and required less coal.
When these units came back on line, the mine reverted to four fleets.
This time, the loss of the fourth fleet has been linked to changes in mining practices as well as fluctuating requirements at the power stations.
Speaking at a Stanwell community update held at Tarong on Wednesday morning, Meandu mine acting site manager Jacob Orbell said the fourth fleet had been running since January 2017 and had always been intended to run for 18 months.
“Since that time it has actually been further lengthened due to some pretty heavy wet weather in 2017-18 and we also had some additional coal requirements in 2017 as well,” Mr Orbell said.
“With these changes in predicted requirements for the power station over the next two years, we’re going to drop back to a three-fleet operation from July 1 this year.
“So we’ll be parking that excavator and its four trucks, a couple of dozers and a grader that comes along with it.”
Mr Orbell said Downer was currently consulting with its workforce as there will be “some downsizing in terms of employment numbers”.
southburnett.com.au later confirmed this figure would be about 70 jobs.
“It’s a particularly sensitive time as a result for the people that are working for Downer. Any time that people’s job certainty is impacted, that can be pretty stressful,” Mr Orbell said.
He said the fourth fleet had been used to shift a lot of “spoil material”, ie. dirt previously mined by Rio Tinto and Thiess, which had been put back into the pits.
He said Downer was now chasing coal seams that lay under this spoil.
“We are moving from a relatively high stripping ratio area, which is the amount of dirt above the amount of coal, into a lower stripping ratio area,” Mr Orbell said.
“We literally need to move less dirt to get about six million tonnes of coal out, so it’s a permanent step down.”