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Jobs to go as Aurizon shuts down Gladstone freight depot

AURIZON'S freight arm will shut down its Gladstone depot before the end of the month, costing eight full-time and contractor jobs.

The rail firm, once known as QR National, is restructuring the way it handles its freight.

It is the latest in a line of local industrial businesses feeling the pinch, following Rio Tinto Alcan reining in its sponsorship program and the recent job cutbacks across Gladstone Power Station, Queensland Alumina Limited and the closure of the Austicks factory.

But those in the industry say it's about working smarter by managing assets, not just maintaining them, and being open to new ideas to improve sustainability.

The Aurizon restructure also affects depots in Toowoomba and Warwick, in total costing 18 full-time and contractor jobs across the state.

Full container load services will continue to be managed from the Mount Miller depot near Gladstone, and smaller load services will be managed by Intermodal Solutions Rockhampton depot.

A spokeswoman for Aurizon said all full-time staff were either given voluntary redundancies or would be considered for other jobs inside the company.

Speaking to students at Gladstone's CQUniversity campus on Tuesday, Stephen Broad, maintenance manager at Yarrabee Coal Company, part of the Yancoal Australia Group, said the mining industry was facing new challenges with mines getting deeper and equipment getting older.

"I was talking to a hydraulics excavator manufacturer a couple of weeks ago ... they used to make 50 large machines a year," he said.

"This year they've made five, of which three of them are for stock. That's the state of the industry."

He said Yarrabee had doubled its operation since 2005, but in challenging times the company's needs had to change from maintaining assets to managing assets.

"By implementing our asset management strategy, we went from being a middle-range cost producer, down to second- cheapest cost producer in Australia, simply through engaging with our workforce and asset management strategies.

"Maintenance is one of the largest spends, so it's where we get the biggest benefit from managing the assets."

Gladstone Engineering Alliance general manager Carli Hobbs agreed that companies needed to be open to new ideas and alliances, especially over the next 12-18 months.

"They need to make sure they have strong strategic and business plans in place, with the whole company focused on the plans."

Ms Hobbs said the GEA members who were doing well were companies that had been proactive in the region.

"We're supporting our members to make sure they have good guidelines and good plans," she said.

The GEA committed $100,000 towards programs that enables businesses to remain sustainable, profitable and productive during the shift in the economy.

Topics:  aurizon, freight, gladstone, job losses, railway




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