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Australian coal industry feels heat from China slowdown

PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:23 pm
by HVPA_research
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Discussion of the current economic difficulties of the coal mining industry is true enough but the article completely missed the point about Bulga. For most residents a buyout of their property by Warkworth Mine expansion is no "lottery" win. We live here because we like to live here!

Australian coal industry feels heat from China slowdown

IT IS midmorning at the Bulga Bridge Café in the Hunter Valley 200km north of Sydney. For the past half an hour customers, mainly workmen in high visibility vests, have been dropping into the general store to buy a snack or something for lunch.

The shop owners, Mike and Toni Silk, would like to see that trickle of customers turn into a flood, but they realise that is not likely because of the tough times facing the coal industry. "We used to get lots of contractors coming down from the mines, but that was before the downturn," says Ms Silk.

Bulga is just one of many small rural communities across Australia that are adjusting to more straitened times in the mining industry as a China-driven investment boom cools. The tiny hamlet is surrounded by three open-cut pits that are all struggling to make a profit in the face of falling coal prices.

Rio’s Warkworth mine, just 6km outside Bulga, is a case in point. Rio says it will be forced to cut its 1,300 workforce at the mine if a court ruling blocking an expansion project is not overturned.

And that would also mean the Silks miss out on what they describe as a "lottery win": their café is one of several properties Rio has promised to buy out if the project goes ahead.