Bloomberg News

BHP Billiton Coal Mine Workers in Australia Extend Strikes

February 24, 2012

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP)’s coking coal miners in Australia, the world’s largest exporter, extended strike action over job security and accommodation conditions at two operations, adding to industrial action since June.

Workers went on strike at the Saraji and Norwich Park operations in Queensland state from today for as many as 10 days, Antonios Papaspiropoulos, a spokesman for Melbourne-based BHP, said by phone. The union also still plans a night strike at Goonyella Riverside tomorrow, he said.

“We’re disappointed with this decision,” Papaspiropoulos said, adding the company remained open to resuming talks with the unions, including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

About 3,000 workers at seven operations in Queensland owned by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s biggest exporter of steelmaking coal, stopped work for a week from Feb. 15 to Feb. 22, adding to rolling strikes since June.

A stoppage of one week would cut output by roughly 1 million metric tons, said Lee Bowers, a Sydney-based resources analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. Workers at the mines began industrial action over accommodation and job security issues, joining a global push from labor unions, as higher commodity prices swell mining company profits.

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 tons, is shipped overseas for steel production, according to its website.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net


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