Cannibalised trucks & rumours
Wednesday 23 November 2016
The massive jump in coal prices in the last three months is inspiring lots of rumours, but only a modest increase in real activity in Bowen Basin mining communities.
One of the first communities to feel the full force of the mining downturn was Dysart. The nearby Norwich Park mine - a key employer in the town - was one of the first operations to be shut down in 2012 costing the community hundreds of jobs.
Since that date rumours of a reopening of the mine have been in constant circulation, however, with metallurgical coal prices recently above $A400 a tonne, the rumours have grown louder.
Dysart Community and Business Group representative John Crooks recalls comments by BHP that reopening Norwich Park would be considered at $170 a tonne - a level nearly half of where the current spot price is.
However he says he’s heard nothing concrete about the mine recently.
“Maybe BHP is waiting to see if the coal price can stay consistently above the $200 a tonne mark in the new year,” he told Shift Miner.
“There are lots of rumours about what’s planned out there, especially because there is a lot of coal exposed, just waiting to be mined, but the mines owners themselves have not said anything.
“However even if they do decide to start mining, it’s not going to be a quick process, because I don’t think too much equipment out there is viable.
“A lot of the parked up machinery has been cannibalised for parts needed by machines still operating at their other mines, which is something that we didn’t see in past downturns.”
Mr Crooks recently expanded his Dysart based hardware business to Tieri and says while things are still quiet, there is evidence of increased activity.
“Glencore has been doing up some of the houses it owns in Tieri and Middlemount,” he said.
“There are also rumours that the big miners have been buying properties adjacent to their mining leases, but those sales may have been in process for a long time.
“Locally more people seem to be arriving than leaving, and the businesses I speak to say there has been a slight improvement, with one shop I know of looking for an apprentice.
“But I am not aware of any really big projects; perhaps it will be clearer after Christmas.”
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