AMSJ » $6B Qld coal acquisitions revive sale speculation over worker pay dispute

$6B Qld coal acquisitions revive sale speculation over worker pay dispute

Daunia coal mine trucks
Daunia coal mine trucks

A mining multinational and major mineral producer recently finished transferring ownership of two Central Queensland operations.

BHP recently confirmed it had finished selling its Blackwater (226km west of Rockhampton) and Daunia (169km southwest of Mackay) coal mines.

Successful bidder Whitehaven Coal is paying a combined US$4.1 billion (A$6.2B) for the two sites.

“We are well placed to execute a smooth transition and to integrate the Daunia and Blackwater mines into the Whitehaven portfolio. We are excited to welcome the teams at Daunia and Blackwater into our business,” Whitehaven CEO and managing director Paul Flynn said in a public statement.

However, the new owner might not hold onto both assets in their entirety forever.

“Whitehaven has previously flagged a possible selldown after paying up for the Queensland assets last year in an auction, when it was advised by UBS,” News Limited reported.

“Two parties – one from Japan and one from India – may be about to surface as buyers of a stake. While the identities are unknown, sources pointed to steel producer JSW Group of India or Nippon of Japan.”

AMSJ can reveal Blackwater is the most likely mine to sell a 20 per cent interest first, potentially fetching a share in up to US$2.5B (A$3.8B).

No announcements are expected to be made before Whitehaven releases its new March quarter production report on 19 April 2024.

Rumours began circulating after 300 employees rejected Whitehaven’s bid to introduce WorkChoices agreement offsets, which reportedly absorb future superannuation increases and strip those affected of up to $100,000 in accrued entitlements. This was feared to affect those planning to retire or accept a redundancy package.

Very negative feedback prompted management to withdraw its proposal.

“We have heard your feedback about the guarantee of annual earnings clause and the potential for this to remove entitlements that people currently enjoy. This is not Whitehaven’s intent,” executive general manager – operations Ian Humphris previously said in an internal email obtained by the Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association (CSOA).

“Whitehaven will be issuing a contract amendment to remove the guarantee of annual earnings clause. This will ensure all transferring Blackwater and Daunia staff can continue to enjoy their current entitlements once they become Whitehaven employees. Whitehaven will also apply this to open cut overseers.”

CSOA congratulated employees on an “incredible win” at the time.

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