Bloomberg News

BHP Billiton Australian Coal Mine Workers Commence Strike

February 15, 2012

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Ltd.’s coking coal miners in Australia, the world’s largest exporter, began a seven-day strike, potentially cutting output by approximately 1 million metric tons.

About 3,000 workers at seven operations in Queensland state owned by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s biggest exporter of steelmaking coal, stopped work today, Fiona Martin, a spokeswoman for Melbourne-based BHP, said by phone.

A stoppage of one week would cut output by roughly 1 million tons, Lee Bowers, a Sydney-based resources analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. said by phone. Workers at the mines began rolling strikes last June over pay and conditions, joining a global push from labor unions as higher commodity prices swell mining company profits.

Workers at BHP’s Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum, and Blackwater mines will be involved in the strikes, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said in an e-mailed statement. Workers are striking to uphold safety and working conditions, the union said.

“This one-off mining boom is delivering record profits to mining companies like BHP,” Tony Maher, CFMEU national president said, according to the statement. “It should also be delivering better jobs for Australians.”

Striking workers will return to their posts on Feb. 22, the union said.

BHP was “disappointed with the decision” and “wants to resume talks with the unions in good faith,” BHP’s Martin said by phone.

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance is equally owned by BHP and Mitsubishi Development Pty. Almost all the coal mined at the BMA sites, with an annual capacity of 58 million metric tons, is shipped overseas for steel production, according to its website.

--Editors: Andrew Hobbs, Rebecca Keenan

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at ebehrmann1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net


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