Miners are stuck in limbo, 'could be two months'

23rd March 2017 4:48 PM
WHERE TO NOW: The Cook Colliery longwall before the inundation that caused widespread staff cuts. WHERE TO NOW: The Cook Colliery longwall before the inundation that caused widespread staff cuts. Contributed

"IT could be two months, it could be less, or it could be longer, we don't know."

These are the circumstances a Cook Colliery miner is facing after Caledon Resources' decision to stand down workers at the mine for an "expected two-month period".

The miner, who has asked not to be named, has spoken out about the devastation surrounding the uncertain future for his family and many in the Blackwater community.

The miner told CQ News he took Caledon's offer to use his leave entitlements but even though he is financially covered for now, he is left waiting day by day, in limbo, for further updates about the future of his job.

"They tried to make it sound not as bad, they tried to play it down," he said.

"There are blokes who don't even have enough leave to cover two months."

The miner moved his family from the south-east corner of Queensland to live in Blackwater.

"We moved here so I could work and live with my family in the town," he said.

"My partner works in town and now it's a burden on her mind as well."

The uncertainty is affecting Blackwater, with many residents who work at Cook considering what they will do if they are left without a job.

"If people leave it will have a huge impact on the community," the miner said.

"Kids will have to be pulled out of school to leave town, and we've already seen massive losses to the schools. The businesses will also be affected.

"It makes me upset because Blackwater is a good little town."

Last week in a formal statement, the company cited a "water inflow event" as the cause for the "regrettable" decision.

It is believed the inflow began on March 7 along the longwall section of the mine and fully inundated the section and equipment.

The company will undertake a de-watering and assessment process over the coming months to "ascertain the full impact of the water inundation on the longwall equipment and strata conditions".

CQ News contacted Caledon for clarification on the length of time employees will be out of work and if some will permanently lose their jobs.

A representative from Caledon responded to the queries.

"Caledon is working with key stakeholders including employees, contractors and government to minimise the impact of the inflow event at Cook Colliery," the representative said.

"Our principal focus is on engaging with our employees, contractors and other stakeholders directly.

"Caledon does not take the decision to stand down employees at Cook Colliery lightly. The decision was unavoidable and necessary in response to the current situation and to ensure the safety of everyone on site at the Cook Colliery."

Caledon will continue to publish periodic updates on www.caledon.com.au.