Sixty jobs will be lost at the Hazelwood mine due to a “change in methodology” by owner – ENGIE – following an investigation into an earth movement in the open cut last September.
The change will make 60 full-time bucket wheel excavator and travelling stacker rehabilitation workers, also known as a 2x12s, redundant by June 30 – six months earlier than originally planned.
As part of the Hazelwood Rehabilitation Project, the company will revert to using a truck and shovel process to rehabilitate the mine from the floor of the mine to the top of the mine’s batters.
Current buttressing processes will be used until June 30 when the change in methodology will come into effect.
The buttressing approach provides stability at the base of the mine and has been preparing the open cut for a potential partial or full pit lake.
The review by the company and regulatory authorities has deemed that process not viable.
The Express understands the workers have been informed of the decision in the past 24 hours.
Hazelwood Rehabilitation Project Director Tony Innocenzi said the approach followed an incident of “material displacement” in the mine last year and subsequent reviews by the company and regulatory authorities including WorkSafe.
He said the review identified ongoing use of the bucket wheel excavator and travelling stacker as not suitable for long-term rehabilitation and was not a viable option in the wet months.
The company designed the bucket wheel excavator approach following the mine’s closure announcement in November 2016 but said the new shovel and truck approach would be a safer option to return it to a “stable and sustainable landform.”
It followed Hazelwood’s closure in March last year.
“Hazelwood explored a range of options in relation to future mine rehabilitation work. In line with expert recommendations … rehabilitation activities will now revert to a truck and shovel process using existing contractors and local labour,” Mr Innocenzi told The Express in a statement.
“The change in process will result in the loss of 60 ENGIE jobs around 30 June, 2018 – six months earlier than originally estimated.”
“We understand that this may be an extremely stressful and uncertain time for all involved. Through the support of our HR staff, we will assist those impacted to access a range of support services including outplacement, employee assistance programs and a $4000 training allowance.”
The company said it would offer assistance to displaced workers with future employment, training, superannuation or a transition into retirement.
“Departing employees will receive all their entitlements, including a redundancy package,” Mr Innocenzi said.
“In practical terms, the methodology to be used in the future relies on truck and shovel earth movements to build batters from the base up, using high-quality materials.
“This differs from the top-down bucket wheel excavator and stacker method, which does not allow for the same precision of earth movement and selection of quality material.”
Mr Innocenzi said ENGIE was committed “where practical” to continue engaging local contractors and local labour hire for seasonal earthworks which runs between November and May.
“Mine rehabilitation activities at the Hazelwood Mine have included a combination of both bucket wheel excavation and truck and shovel activities carried out by local contractors,” Mr Innocenzi said.