Peabody feels the brunt of coal slump

Lee Constable

lee.constable@dailymercury.com.au

PEABODY Energy, one of the world's largest privately owned coal mine companies, is suffering financially.

Peabody owns several Queensland mines including Coppabella, Middlemount, Burton, North Goonyella, Moorvale and Millenium.

The company has declared a 30-day grace period to make interest payments of $US71 million.

"For employees our business moves forward in ordinary course and this has no effect on day-to-day operations," Peabody Energy CEO Amy Schwetz said.

CFMEU Queensland district president Steve Smyth said the news from Peabody painted a bleak picture.

"One of Peabody's problems is they are just a coal commodity... so they are going to feel the brunt of current difficult times in the coal industry. Their share prices fell from record highs to next to nothing," he said.

With thousands of employees, contractors and labour hire staff in the region employed in Peabody mines, the current situation is disappointing.

"Everyone acknowledges that Peabody, like all coal companies, are doing it extremely difficult... obviously they didn't put their mind forward to when things came off the boil. Other companies can offset with the other commodities they deal in," Mr Smyth said.

"The workers are doing everything in their power to assist. Our focus is on the employees, ensuring their jobs continue, the security is there and their entitlements are protected," he said.

Resource Industry Network's chairman Tony Caruso said if Peabody did go into administration it was different to voluntary administration in Australia.

"They effectively freeze their debt and keep trading. I wouldn't be expecting to see significant changes," Mr Caruso said.

"We are hoping that it doesn't mean they are going to be shutting down operations, more so... just operating prudently through this part of the cycle."



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