The next eight years will be important to get right, say advocates for local mine workers, as BHP announces plans to close the Mt Arthur coal mine in 2030.
The company revealed the decision yesterday, after failing to find a buyer to take over the site.
The mine has approval until 2026 and intended to extend its lifespan until 2045, but will now apply with the expectation to end operations in 2030.
The Mining and Energy Union is now calling on BHP to reinvest in workers and their families, as well as the broader community impacted by the closure.
Northern District Mining President Robin Williams says it’s come as a surprise to a lot of workers.
“When they started to work at the mine, they probably started there thinking that they’d probably retire at the mine, and now that’s not going to be realised by the vast majority of people that work at that operation,” he said.
“There’s not going to be enough jobs, in my opinion, in the rehabilitation of the mine or renewables around the area, if renewables end up eventuating to take up the account of all those people.
“Whether or not they can transition to other mines that are still going to be operational around the area, I guess that remains to be seen.”
BHP is promising to take responsibility for the region’s transition and help diversify the Hunter Valley economy ahead of the impending closure.
The company says it will consult employees, local businesses, indigenous groups, and all levels of government to develop a plan for the region’s future.
Hunter MP-elect Dan Repacholi says he’s hoping to work with BHP and make sure the company gets a fair outcome by the end of the decade.
“For the workers, this has given some security for the next eight years, which I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “I appreciate BHP being upfront with the workers and the community about the future of the mine site there.”
“The big thing is though, they need to make sure the highly-skilled workforce be supported, and job transfer opportunities available and training available for them then to go into different industries.”
“I’ve worked in the mining energy sector, and I have mates that actually work at this mine site – this is a personal issue for me.”