BHP can save money without cutting jobs: union

AFTER a year where BHP fired hundreds of workers, the company has claimed it has re-established its "competitive advantage" in coal through cutting costs.

But the miner's union says the company could save money through other means.

In a statement released on Monday, following its annual general meeting last week, BHP Billiton said the company had performed well in the coal market

"BHP Billiton's coal business has re-established its competitive advantage by closing high-cost capacity and sustainably reducing costs," the statement said.

"All of our coal operations remain cash positive despite the low price environment and are well placed for margin expansion when prices are expected to recover in the medium term.

"Productivity in the coal business has improved significantly in the last two years, with unit costs cut by 37% in metallurgical coal and by 21% in energy coal. The group is targeting a further 10% reduction in unit costs at Queensland coal in the 2015 financial year and a 15% decline in unit costs at New South Wales Energy coal by the end of the 2016 financial year."

But the CFMEU believes the company's cost cutting strategy will not work in the long term.

CFMEU Queensland district senior vice president Mitch Hughes said job cuts was a short term solution.

"The mining game is has its booms and busts like anything like any other industry," he said.

"Things are going to pick up in the coal industry and when they do BHP is going to need to ramp up again. There are other places they could save money.

"This is the conversation we've had with them many times, cutting costs on processes instead of staff. But we can't tell them how to run a business at the end of the day."

- APN NEWSDESK



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