BMA coking coal mines to resume full operations in end-Sept, Mitsubishi says

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) is expected to resume full operations at the end of September, Mitsubishi Corp said on Thursday August 2.

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A spokesman for the Japanese conglomerate, one half of the Australian coking coal joint venture, told Metal Bulletin that an agreement with coalmine workers is expected soon following an 18-month dispute over issues including housing, payroll and rosters system.

“We’re in the process of mediation. It’s still going on, and we hope to finish it by the end of August,” the spokesman said.

Earlier in July, the BMA and coalmine workers agreed to a framework pact that will guide the finalisation of a new enterprise agreement to end the dispute.

BHP Billiton declared force majeure across its Bowen Basin mines in April following industrial action and heavy rain, before finally lifting it in July.

During the June quarter of 2012, BMA produced 8.1 million tonnes of metallurgical coal, up 2% year-on-year.

Mitsubishi cfo Ryoichi Ueda reportedly told Dow Jones that the mines are currently operating at 70% capacity.

Mitsubishi recorded a 19% decline in gross profit during the June quarter.

“This was due mainly to lower sales prices and lower sales volume because of strike action” at BMA coking coal mines, Mitsubishi said in its quarterly financial results released on August 2.

The conglomerate’s metal group saw a 90% drop in net income during the quarter to ¥6 billion ($76.8 million).