THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
Thursday, 07 February 2013 08:48
The Indian-owned Collie miner Griffin Coal has hit trouble again, with its mining boss resigning abruptly amid a wider review that could see 30 per cent of its workforce axed.
Vice president of operations at Griffin's mine Aaron Maurer was headhunted from the Eastern States last year, and is credited with stabilising Griffin's loss-making Collie operations with changes that reversed flooding in the company's main pit.
Sources close to the company said Mr Maurer was frustrated by being excluded from key decisions, but he could not be contacted for comment.
In a statement, Griffin said it was "with regret" it had to announce Mr Maurer's departure but wished him well.
Griffin Coal managing director Prasad Kandimalla said that Mr Maurer had made significant and long-term improvements to Griffin's mining operations at Collie.
"Aaron has been actively involved in planning for the Muja South expansion project," Mr Prasad said. "Most recently he provided leadership to limit the impact on Griffin's operations from the flash flooding that struck the Collie region in December. Aaron is an experienced operational executive and we wish him well."
CFMEU Mining and Energy Division WA secretary Gary Wood said the industry was going through a difficult time amid rising costs and low coal prices.
He said while Griffin was to be commended for continuing to pay staff, he was concerned that the constant turmoil at the company was creating uncertainty and said a review of its costs could mean up to 30 per cent of Griffin's roughly 500 workers would be axed.
"The problem that we are facing is there has been a number of shuffling of the cards at the mine in the past," Mr Wood said.
Debt-laden Lanco Infratech bought the mine for $750 million in 2010 from the wreckage of Ric Stowe's empire.
It was to have gained a short-term cash boost from the separate $1.2 billion sale of nearby Bluewaters power station this week, but that trade has yet to settle.
Bluewaters administrator Scott Kershaw of KordaMentha declined to comment.
The power station sale to Japan's Sumitomo and Kansai Electric was approved by Premier Colin Barnett late last week under special clauses in the State's mining regulations that tightly control the key energy-producing Collie coal fields.
It is unclear when the deal will settle.
Mr Maurer's duties will be managed by Graham Cleggett, Griffin's existing general manager of operations.
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