BHP urged to support coal communities as they exit
Mining giant BHP owes it to their workers to provide ongoing community support in two central Queensland communities after the company unveiled plans to sell two coal mines, a key union says.
The global mining giant is looking for buyers for its Blackwater and Daunia metallurgical coal mines in the state's Central Highlands and Isaac regions, blaming the state's coal royalties regime.
Mining and Energy Union Queensland president Stephen Smyth said while buyers for the mines are likely to be found, BHP must not abandon its workers.
"BHP has long been the biggest coal mine operator in central Queensland and I believe they owe it to their workforce and the communities that have sustained them to provide some ongoing support," he said in a statement.
"BHP must guarantee that workers' entitlements will be protected throughout this process, including their contractor workforce.
"And I call on BHP to make a commitment to providing ongoing community support - especially to the town of Blackwater which has supported the Blackwater mine for over 50 years of its operation by BHP."
State Treasurer Cameron Dick said the two quality mines would unlikely to be on the market for long.
"I'm sure they'll be snapped by some of the many companies that want to continue to mine in the Bowen Basin," Mr Dick told AAP.
BHP chief executive Mike Henry said the state's mining royalty rates had increased his company's risk and "worsens the economics of these mines".
Miners have been paying more royalties on each tonne of coal sold for more than $175 since the start of the new financial year.
The mining industry enjoyed a 10-year freeze on royalties until the latest financial year began.
The Queensland Resources Council said BHP's decision was very concerning for the industry and set off alarm bells about coal royalty rates.
The coal mining lobby group's chief executive Ian Macfarlane called for the government to reconsider its coal royalty policy before other companies divested from Queensland.
"This again confirms that the state government's new royalty rates, introduced suddenly and without industry consultation, has made Queensland uncompetitive," Mr Macfarlane said in a statement.
"BHP's concerns will be noted by other major investors here in Australia and around the world, which adds to the serious threat the royalty tax increase poses to future investment and jobs in Queensland."
Shadow treasurer David Janetzki said BHP's decision showed there were real ramifications from Mr Dick's failure to get tax policy right.
"He is a threat to the Queensland economy," he told parliament.