Loss of 11,000 coal mining jobs blamed on competition, gas

THE erosion of 11,000 coal mining jobs nationwide may be the fault of world competition, an American gas boom and low international prices.

It was, however, not the fault of the state and federal governments, at least according to them.

After 1000 jobs disappeared from Central Queensland in just a week, complaints from some of Australia's largest mining companies of being stifled by regulation appeared in sharp focus.

Industry giants, Peabody, Anglo American, contractors Downer and Glencore Xstrata, stole more than 1000 jobs from the industry in June alone.

In a speech earlier this week, Anglo American boss Mark Cutifani warned the only hope for the coal industry's survival was if the federal and state governments took action to help it grow.

"When dealing with the facts of our contribution to the Australian economy, and the world at large, either our political leadership didn't care or didn't understand," Mr Cutifani said to a minerals conference in Canberra this week.

"I can find no other way to explain the policy uncertainty that has impacted the Australian mining industry over the last few years."

Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray said the United States, Indonesia, South Africa, Mongolia and Columbia were now fighting Australia for its coal export markets.

He said the US in particular - now splashing around in a shale gas boom - was helping create a glut of world coal supplies which were keeping prices low.

"In time these companies will work through which mines will be affected by this and make their own announcements," Mr Gray said.

He said the carbon price introduced by the Federal Government helped reduce the cost for mines by handing over $218 million to mines ahead of its introduction.

A second round would be paid to mines in October

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney seemed to sing from the same song book as Mr Gray, saying major investment decisions from mining companies would "be determined by market demand and prices" not by increased royalties taken by the state.

Mr Seeney said the government was "working constantly" with the industry and winding back "over-regulation" left behind by its predecessors.

International prices for coal were expected to remain on a plateau until at least 2014, after hitting historic highs in 2009 and again in 2011.

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