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BHP coal mine workers in Australian state set to vote to strike

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SYDNEY, Sep 21 (Reuters) – Workers at four mines at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), which owns Australia’s largest steel coal mines, will vote to strike over working conditions and job security, their union said on Wednesday.

Possibility of strikes at some BHP Group facilities (BHP.AX) joint venture with Mitsubishi Corp. (8058.T) in the Australian state of Queensland amid falling prices due to lower demand for steel in China.

Coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed on Sept. 20 at 2,192.5 yuan, up from a March high of 3,741 yuan.

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“We have had 15 months of negotiations with BHP, then another three months of negotiations facilitated by the Fair Labor Commission, but BHP refuses to do the right thing,” said Stephen Smith, President of the Queensland Mining and Energy Union (MEU). statement.

Mitsubishi Development and BHP, one of the world’s largest mining companies, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

BMA, owned by 50:50 BHP and Mitsubishi Development, is Australia’s largest producer and supplier of marine metallurgical coal. The Alliance operates seven mines in the Bowen Basin in central Queensland, as well as the Hay Point Coal Terminal.

Smith said the union will fight to keep permanent jobs after a steady decline over the past decade. Negotiations did not go as far as discussing wage increases, he said, as the focus was on working conditions, especially job security.

The union filed a strike application with Australia’s regulator on Monday, but a vote date has yet to be set, a union spokesman said in an email response.

More than 2,000 workers at four of BMA’s seven mines are covered by a valid labor contract, the union said.

BHP’s coal operations in Queensland, which also includes two mines independently operated by the mining company, produced 41 million tons of steelmaking coal in fiscal 2021. That’s about 4% of the world’s total, according to the International Energy Agency.

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Reporting by Lewis Jackson and Renju Jose; editing by Richard Pullin

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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