BHP Billiton continued with its cost cutting and productivity drive efforts as the company cut 170 jobs at its Mount Whaleback iron ore on Monday, less than a week after it slashed 100 jobs at the Perth headquarters of its iron-ore division.
According to the article on WA today, the job cuts in the Pilbara are part of the company’s broader strategy to slim down operations across all levels and are unrelated to weakening iron ore prices, with the commodity currently sitting at around US$94 a tonne.
Mount Whaleback mine produces about 40% of iron ore traded by sea. The job cuts have been made in the operational division, but the company said it remained committed to its productivity agenda.
“BHP Billiton iron ore regularly undertakes reviews to ensure that our business is operating as efficiently as possible,” a spokesperson said.
“This includes reviewing the size and structure of our workforce to ensure it supports the delivery of our productivity agenda. We have been open with our employees about the work being done to improve productivity.”
BHP’s latest wave of retrenchments provoked heavy criticism from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), which blasted the mining giant for only thinking of profits.
“Forecasts show BHP could easily absorb fluctuations in the iron ore price, maintain employee numbers and remain profitable,” CFMEU mining and energy WA secretary Gary Wood said.
“But instead, it is throwing workers and families into turmoil because of its ruthless focus on cutting costs to improve shareholder returns.”
According to the article on Au.news, BHP declined to respond directly to the union’s claims but a spokeswoman said the business regularly undertook reviews to ensure that it was operating as efficiently as possible.
“This includes reviewing the size and structure of our workforce to ensure it supports the delivery of our productivity agenda. We have been open with our employees about the work being done to improve productivity,” she said.
“In situations where employees are impacted, we will undertake every effort to assist them throughout the process and to seek redeployment opportunities where possible.”
It is understood affected employees may be able to apply for fly-in, fly-out roles at BHP’s Jimblebar and Eastern Ridge projects.