BHP sacks Olympic Dam workers
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February 06 2013, 3:06PM
By Greg Roberts
MELBOURNE, Feb 6 AAP - BHP Billiton has told workers at its Olympic Dam project about further losses as the global miner seeks to slash costs.
The world's largest resources company would not say how many workers would go at the massive Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold project, after reports that more than 100 workers could lose their jobs.
Those affected will mostly be Adelaide-based contractors from its corporate human resources, finance and administration areas and not from the mine site itself.
"Olympic Dam continues to focus on reducing overheads, operating costs and non-essential expenditures to ensure it remains competitive in the current environment of sustained lower commodity prices and a strong Australian dollar," a BHP spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday.
"While our strategies are focused on reducing our goods and services spend first, a reduction in functional and operational roles, impacting BHP Billiton employees and contractors, is necessary at this time."
The spokeswoman said the cuts were not related to last August's cancellation of the expansion of the $US30 billion ($A28.98 billion) Olympic Dam mega project, when the project team was cut from 200 to 50.
The company flagged further job cuts in December when it transferred control of Olympic Dam from Australia to its base metal division in Chile.
The move signified the higher priority that earnings from copper now played over uranium.
BHP on Wednesday blamed low commodity prices and a high Australian dollar for the job cuts which, along with rising costs, had also led to jobs cuts and cost-cutting at its iron ore and coal divisions in the second half of 2012.
Iron ore and coal prices plummeted in 2012 amid weak global economic growth while uranium demand and prices around the world had stalled since the Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011 led to widespread shutting of reactors.
The overall resources sector cut nearly 13,000 out of about 255,000 jobs in the second half of last year in response to falling prices, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The BHP spokeswoman said the miner would attempt to redeploy people to other roles within the company but those offers were not always taken up.
More than 3,500 people are employed at Olympic Dam, which is Australia's largest underground mine and one of the largest mines in the world.
BHP shares were up 23 cents at $37.41 at 1425 AEDT.