Aquila mine shutdown puts 80 jobs at risk

THE mothballing of a Central Queensland mine has put 80 jobs at risk, after Anglo American told workers they had until July 30 before its Aquila mine was shut down.

It comes just months before Anglo is expected to begin its hunt for workers to operate the enormous Grosvenor underground mine planned for near Moranbah.

Aquila employed 61 contractors and 19 Anglo staff, producing 500,000 tonnes of coal per year.

Anglo has vowed to work with staff to either find them roles at its other sites or "discuss redundancy options" with them.

The fate of the 61 contractors is unknown.

Anglo's metallurgical coal boss Seamus French said the mine would be wound down over the next six weeks, with the goal of having Aquila prepared for "under care and maintenance".

Mr French said the suspension of the mine was the result of an Anglo review started in early 2012 to focus on cutting costs.

He described Aquila's shut-down as "the next step in this process".

The idea of shutting down a coal operation - once unthinkable - is growing uncomfortably common as the world's largest resource companies keep penny-pinching as a top priority.

In May last year, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance shut its Norwich Park project because it was deemed too costly to continue operating.

Just four months later, BMA announced workers would down tools at its Gregory open-cut coal mine - again, because it was considered unprofitable.

For those left out of work by Anglo's closure of Aquila, there may be a reprieve on the horizon.

The company expects it will begin recruiting for 380 to operate its $1.7 billion Grosvenor project by the end of the year.

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