Digging stops at Stratford mine

DIGGING at Stratford coal mine has ceased as mine owners Yancoal await approval to expand the mine.

Ditchfield Contracting has stopped digging at Stratford coal mine.

Ditchfield Contracting has stopped digging at Stratford coal mine.

Employees of mine operators Ditchfield Contracting stopped digging in the Bowens Rd North Pit last Thursday (July 3).

Ditchfield’s manager of mining and engineering at Stratford John Bowen said 10 mine workers had been retrenched.

“It’s our third lot of retrenchments since October last year,” he said.

Ditchfield has been involved with Stratford mine for the past eight years and has been operating the mine for the past six.

At the peak of operations, the company employed up to 80 workers at Stratford.

Mr Bowen said the majority of the retrenched workers lived in Gloucester and the impact would be felt by the local community.

Mine owners Yancoal extended operations at the Bowens Rd North Pit by six months after originally planning to stop digging in December last year.

“Current work at Stratford includes rehabilitation, maintenance and environmental monitoring as well as operation of the Coal Handling and Prep Plant (CHPP),” a Yancoal spokesman said.

“The CHPP will continue to process coal from Duralie, as well as recovered material from Stratford, which will be loaded at the rail facility.

“It’s expected that employment numbers at Stratford will remain steady while the application to extend the operation is determined.”

Mr Bowen said eight Ditchfield employees would remain to oversee the tidy up process before they too left the site.

He said Ditchfield had been involved in no discussions with Yancoal about operating the site if approval for the expansion project was granted.

“It will have to go to a completely new tender process or Yancoal could decide to owner-operate,” he said.

A Yancoal spokesman said following a change in policy the company was moving to employ production personnel directly, rather than through contractors.

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