The Cook Colliery longwall.
The Cook Colliery longwall. Contributed

Anxious wait for CQ miners continues

A SMALL number of workers who had been stood down have been called back to work at Caledon Coal's Cook Colliery.

The mine halted production in early March after water inundation at its longwall panel forced management to implement a number of measures including standing down at least 150 workers for an expected two-month period.

READ: CQ miners stood down after mine floods.

This morning the company issued an update, in which it detailed the options it had made available to these workers at the Blackwater operation.

"Despite being hindered by road closures caused as a result of ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the longwall face area has been successfully dewatered and safe access restored through both the maingate and tailgate roadways,” the statement says.

"Pumping of residual water from the longwall area continues.

"A detailed assessment process has commenced as part of the recovery program.

"It is expected that this process will require several weeks to complete after which time the company will be able to ascertain the full impact and implications of the water inundation.”

The statement outlined options for affected workers. These include:

-Payments from accrued annual leave or long service leave entitlements for the relevant period of the stand down. Annual leave accruals continue for employees during the stand down period.

-Employees may choose to cash out a portion of their accrued paid personal leave as income.

-Employees on stand down may take up alternative employment provided that the company is first notified in writing and that no conflict of interest is deemed to exist.

-During the stand down period, the company will waive an employee's termination notice period in the event that they decide to resign their position to take up alternative employment.

Several employees not covered by the EA have also accessed annual leave during the stand down period.

The statement says Caledon has identified productive duties for the majority of its employees based on skills, competencies, and experience relevant to the dewatering and assessment phase of work.

"As a result of the water inundation, it was necessary to implement a range of measures to preserve all available funds for recovery efforts. These included the demobilisation of most site contractors and, where appropriate, termination of contract agreements to avoid ongoing losses,” the statement says.

The Cook Colliery is Caledon's single operating asset and sole source of income.

Eighty-five per cent of the mine's 2017 coal production was expected to be sourced from the inundated longwall mining panel.