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70 jobs cut

Saturday, 20th June, 2020

Underground operations at the Rasp Mine in Broken Hill. Underground operations at the Rasp Mine in Broken Hill.

By Craig Brealey

Workers at the Rasp Mine will know by the end of this month if they still have a job.

At a mass meeting called by the mine’s owner, CBH, on Tuesday employees were told that 39 full-time positions and those of 31 contractors would have to go due to operating losses and commodity prices falling by about 20 per cent due to less demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The mine had been producing about 60,000 tonnes a month of low grade ore from its remnant mining and higher grade but lower volume ore from the Western Mineralisation.

Production would be cut to between 35,000 and 39,000 tonnes a month, according to Chief Operating Officer, Visko Sulicich.

Rasp employs 256 workers and Mr Sulicich said they had been invited to lodge interest in voluntary redundancy by Monday.

On June 30 the mine would close for 24 hours while formal notification of the job losses would be announced, he said.

Vice President of the CFMEU, Greg Braes, said it was a blow but that he appreciated the mine offering voluntary redundancy in the first instance.

“A lot of our members are older and may be looking at taking it and leaving on their own terms but 70 people is still a fair number to lose,” said Mr Braes.

“It’s a sad time and not just for the workers and their families but the whole community.

“I’ve had a few calls from members but all we can do is offer support. Everyone has to be mindful and keep their mind on the job.

“But who knows, there could be the potential for more jobs when things change and prices pick up.”

Vince Gauci, a former local mining engineer who is now the chairman of Foundation Broken Hill, said he appreciated the problems faced by CBH and Perilya, and said it was time for government to repay Broken Hill for the enormous wealth it had generated for the entire nation (see page 3).

Mayor Darriea Turley said the council would lobby the government for greater support.

Mayor Turley acknowledged that “global forces” had triggered the job cuts.

“Council recognises that mining companies are dealing with low commodity prices, a strained relationship between Australia and China, and a host of other global financial factors,” she said.

“But that doesn’t make the news any less concerning for the Broken Hill community, and my thoughts are with those workers and families who are now facing great uncertainty.

“We can only urge CBH to reinstate these positions at a later date when conditions improve, and I’m sure that’s a conversation they will hold internally in future.”

Mayor Turley said council would ensure the state and federal governments were made aware of the challenges facing the city.

“We can’t change commodity prices or create new mining jobs, but we can fight tooth and nail to get as many government dollars as possible injected into our community,” she said.

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