After Friday’s announcement that Charbon coal mine will be closing its underground operations on March 7, there is hope yet for some Centennial Coal employees.
On Monday Centennial Coal announced it will re-open its Airly mine at Capertee, redeploying staff from Charbon in a bid to “minimise overall retrenchments”.
Airly was placed on care and maintenance during December 2012, and Centennial Coal said the mine’s minimal use was “in response to the economic climate at the time”.
On Monday Centennial Coal’s general manager western operations, Mick Cairney, said the decision to reopen Airly would maintain production levels across the company.
“While there has not been a significant upturn in the sector it allows Centennial to sustain current production levels across the group,” he said.
“Since 2012 Centennial has continued with a project to renew Airly’s planning consent. The consent renewal seeks approval to operate in the existing approved mining lease as well as an extension of mining into the areas that are currently licenced for exploration.”
Centennial Coal announced on Monday that redeployment from Charbon would commence as early as next week and continue in stages over several weeks. Airly is expected to start producing coal in March.
On Friday the company said Charbon, after over 90 years of mining, will deplete its coal reserves by 2015. Open cut mining will continue at Charbon until 2015 but underground operations will cease on March 7.
“This is an opportunity to use most of our experienced Charbon workforce and therefore minimise overall retrenchments at the end of the month,” Mr Cairney said.
“We have every confidence those being redeployed will breathe a new lease of life into our Airly Mine.”
About a fortnight ago 100 underground employees at Charbon were given five weeks’ notice of their termination. Fifteen jobs were going to be redirected to the coal mine’s washery.
Plans to close Charbon’s underground operations in 2014 were first announced in May 2013.
Charbon has been in operation since the 1920s and initially supplied coal for the former Charbon Cement Works until its closure in 1977.
Charbon continued to produce coal for local use until it was upgraded in 1985. Its current production capacity is approximately 1.3 million tonnes per annum and it predominantly supplies the export market, with some domestic sales to Sibelco’s limeworks nearby.