Buller to lose another 60 jobs

Buller has been rocked by the second big job loss announcement in less than a week.

OceanaGold has confirmed it will cut about 60 jobs - 25 per cent of the 240-strong workforce - at its Globe Progress Reefton gold mine over the next few months.

Poor international gold prices have eroded the mine's profitability.

The company told workers on Tuesday. It will consult with them over the proposed cuts until mid-July.

The blow comes less than a week after Solid Energy announced about 187 jobs - 29 per cent of the 640-strong workforce - would go at Stockton opencast mine next month. Solid Energy blamed poor international coal prices and the high kiwi dollar.

OceanaGold investor relations manager Sam Pazuki said today that when OceanaGold revised its Reefton mine plan a year ago, it had included a substantial decrease in total movements beginning next month.

"As a result, the operation requires lower equipment usage, bringing a reduction in mining operations and support staff.''

Most of the 60 jobs were mining operations roles, Mr Pazuki said.

He confirmed OceanaGold planned to put the mine into care and maintenance late next year.

Asked how many jobs would go then, Mr Pazuki said the company was still working through its requirements.

However, a previous OceanaGold manager, Gareth Thomas, told The News last year that the mine would probably only need about six staff for care and maintenance work.

Buller Deputy Mayor, Graeme Neylon, who lives just outside Reefton, said the job losses would have a ``huge impact'' on the town.

Much of Reefton's recent prosperity was linked to the mine.

Mr Neylon said he understood operators were earning between $35 and $45 an hour.

At that rate, the loss of 60 workers working 40 hours a week would cost the economy at least $4.3m to $5.6m a year.

A year ago, OceanaGold said the mine had provided about $45 million a year in direct and indirect benefits to the Coast since it opened in 2006.

Mr Neylon said OceanaGold had spoken of possibly opening an underground mine at Blackwater, but he could not see that happening unless gold prices improved.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor was stunned by the second big job cut announcement in less than a week.

"It's another significant blow for the West Coast, but a savage blow for the Reefton community.

"This is, unfortunately, the reality of the mining industry where we go from a high to a low. We just have to do better at managing the transition and providing more sustainable jobs through Buller and the wider West Coast.''

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