Solid Energy confirms more than 100 job losses
State-owned coal miner Solid Energy has confirmed job losses for more than 100 of its staff at the Stockton mine, near Westport.
Yesterday, Labour MP Damien O’Connor said further restructuring plans would be announced today, with any job losses likely to be a “shock” for the West Coast.
The company had already foreshadowed more redundancies in March, because of slumping global prices for coking coal.
Today, Solid Energy confirms 151 jobs will be cut from the mine, consisting of 113 redundancies and the remainder through already vacant roles.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) West Coast organiser Garth Elliott says nearly 900 jobs have been lost at Solid Energy since 2011.
Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford told Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee in March plans were under way to stem the company’s financial losses, and “reductions will be inevitable on the basis of those plans.”
Staff were being kept informed of the company's difficulties and decisions are "not a matter of days or of double digit months," Mr Clifford said.
Chairman Andy Coupe would not speculate at the time on whether the company might fail but said there were "a number of potential outcomes" from current discussions with its banking consortium and said Solid Energy was "expecting no further support from the Crown."
Finance Minister Bill English questioned whether Solid Energy remained commercially viable.
Restructuring and cost-cutting had reduced Solid Energy's breakeven price for coking coal to between $US120-130 a tonne, but it was basing its plans on a price in the year ahead of $US110 a tonne.
Solid Energy has also said it risks breaching its banking covenants in September 2016.
Mr Coupe said there were no immediate cashflow problems but it was unlikely to be enough to overcome the September 2016 issues.
“My view is that we cannot see the refinancing of our debt facilities is realistic absent a restructure of our liabilities."
The government helped bail out Solid Energy in 2013 and also extended a $103 million indemnity to the company just before the general election last year.