Plan aims to keep staff

Wollongong Coal says it will focus on developing underground roadways needed for future growth while waiting for approvals, in an effort to keep "as many workers in employment as possible".

Chief operating officer David Stone said the market price of coal was the "main driver" of the company's review of its operations.

"Wollongong Coal and its principal shareholder are staunchly committed to developing and operating their underground operations, despite these unprecedented economic times which see current global coking coal market prices at historical lows," he said.

Mr Stone said the miner would develop roadways to allow resumption of longwall operations at Russell Vale. It would also try to speed up the Wongawilli South underground project.

"If possible we would like to be able to accommodate workers from our Wongawilli operation to Russell Vale," he said.

"We have worked closely with the workers' representatives at a local and district level and presented several options to negate the need for any forced redundancies.

"Following the closure of the [voluntary redundancy scheme] we will determine an appropriate and sustainable course of action with an intention of keeping any forced reductions to an absolute minimum."

He said until the completion and approval of the new Wongawilli South Project, the remnant mining that had been occurring in the Old Nebo workings was not viable for either longwall or partial extraction with continuous miners.

"The current intent is to leave the old longwall equipment in Nebo in situ at this time with a recovery process developed but on hold until market conditions change," he said.

"We intend developing the old workings for future continuous miner full extraction once the correct cost structure can be obtained."

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