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Falling prices, rising costs spell 'early end' for Qld mine
10/08/2012 - One of Queensland's oldest coal mines will close earlier than expected at the cost of 140 jobs. Petrina Berry
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Rio Tinto announced on Wednesday its Blair Athol mine in central Queensland would close by the end of the year instead of 2016 as previously planned.
The mining giant said a significant drop in the coal price and rising production costs meant it was not feasible to keep it open for another four years.
Many mines that produced thermal coal for power stations were struggling, Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche told reporters.
"This is a reminder to all of us no part of the resources sector is bullet proof when prices are falling and costs are rising," Roche said.
"There are many thermal coal mines across Queensland that are not making money at current prices."
A nearby mine in Clermont has cut back non-mining staff, and the Ensham mine near Emerald has announced a reduction of about 100 contractors.
Xstrata will restructure its central Queensland operations, which could result in more job losses.
Roche said it was not all doom and gloom, however, and new coal mines were coming on line.
"We still do have a strong Queensland coal industry and coal will remain by far our single largest export commodity," he said.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the mine closure was not an indication the resource boom was faltering.
"I think mining in Queensland has a long way to go," he told reporters in Brisbane.
"We know that investment is occurring."
The Blair Athol mine has been operating for almost 30 years.
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