IT COULD be the most tiring tug-of-war in history.
The spat between mine owners BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance and the three workers' unions has dragged one for more than 20 months but a result is no closer.
BMA and the union brigade - including Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union - held meetings on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week.
The three unions brought a proposal to the table to solve an impasse centred on rostering but the union's representative said it was rejected outright by BMA.
Now the plan is for all sides to enter mediation.
BMA is yet to agree.
CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said it was the third time the union has made such an attempt.
"We see it as an alternative way to move the discussion forward," he said.
Mr Smyth described the current state of negotiations as "very negative".
Meanwhile, the three unions continue unpredictable and sporadic stop-work actions at BMA's Central Queensland sites in an effort to keep the pressure on the company.
Union delegates from the seven affected mines will meet in Mackay on Thursday to discuss what comes next.
A BMA spokeswoman said the company had invested resources and effort into hammering out an enterprise agreement with the union.
She said BMA still aimed to reach a deal through negotiation.