AMSJ » Employer confirms potential second coal mine sale

Employer confirms potential second coal mine sale

Blackwater Coal Mine
Blackwater Coal Mine

A major mineral producer could start selling part of two Central Queensland operations.

Whitehaven Coal recently revealed it would consider divesting significant stakes in its newly acquired Blackwater (226km west of Rockhampton) and Daunia (169km southwest of Mackay) coal mines.

The proponent paid BHP US$4.1 billion (A$6.2B) for both sites just weeks prior.

“We will start with Blackwater and move on given the interest is very, very strong in relation to that asset,” Whitehaven managing director Paul Flynn said in the company’s latest quarterly production results presentation.

“We will think about the opportunity with Daunia at a later date, given that it is enmeshed with our Winchester South and being a more complex proposition in that regard in terms of two assets.”

If successful, a 20 per cent selldown at Blackwater could fetch up to US$500 million (A$760M) according to mainstream media speculation.

The money could be used to help establish a joint venture business model.

“That is logical, given Blackwater’s quality. As well, understand, been in the market a long time, and people are very comfortable using it,” Flynn said.

The remarks came after News Limited circulated rumours that potential buyers from Japan and India could acquire the stake in question.

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

A total of 300 employees earlier 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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