Coal company succeeds in JobKeeper application as coal industry starts to buckle under price and volume downturns

COAL miners at the Bloomfield open-cut mine near Maitland have had their wages supplemented by the COVID-19 subsidy JobKeeper, mine owner Bloomfield Group has confirmed.

DIGGING IN: Bloomfield Group says it will do what it can to support local jobs, including applying for JobKeeper.
 DIGGING IN: Bloomfield Group says it will do what it can to support local jobs, including applying for JobKeeper.

A Bloomfield spokesperson said the company had also applied for JobKeeper at its larger Rix's Creek open-cut mine at Singleton, which employs about 300 people.

A weekly Bloomfield newsletter dated July 27 said "Rix's Creek Mine is eligible for JobKeeper", and thanked employees for their "prompt responses" in filling out the application forms.

The Bloomfield spokesperson said employees at the company's Kings Engineering business at Rutherford had also been supported by JobKeeper but not its other maintenance business, Four Mile Pty Ltd.

He declined to say how much Bloomfield had received.

Bloomfield was founded in 1934 by Roy Cant and the group is now controlled by managing director John Richards, who married into the family.

The coal industry is notoriously cyclical when it comes to coal prices and profitability, with long-standing structures in place to deal with the lay-offs, known in the industry as a "cavil out".

Until recently, mining appeared to be avoiding the worst of the coronavirus impacts, although fly-in, fly-out operations were having to cope with border closures.

But export tonnages are falling, as well as prices, because of lower demand from major customers, and because of Chinese restrictions on Australian coal as part of the political and trade battles between China and the West.

Read the full article published in the Newcastle Herald 04 August 2020