Jobs go as mining bust starts to be felt across Toowoomba

Russell Mineral Equipment released 13 engineers yesterday as a direct result of the downturn in the mining sector.
Russell Mineral Equipment released 13 engineers yesterday as a direct result of the downturn in the mining sector. Bev Lacey

SEVERAL major Toowoomba businesses have been forced to lay-off workers as the sharp decrease in mining activity slowly starts to ripple through the city's economy.

Toowoomba has not been immune to the massive downturn in coal mining in the Bowen and Galilee Basins which is being felt across the state.

The latest to fall victim to the downturn has been Toowoomba-based company Russell Mineral Equipment who yesterday told 13 engineers their services were no longer required.

Russell Mineral Equipment group general manager Peter Rubie said it was an unfortunate position the company found itself in.

"We have had a reduction in demand for our mill relining machines," Mr Rubie said.

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"It was a very difficult decision for us. We are a very tight-knit company that value its employees. "However, due to the sharp drop-off in the mining sector we were unable to maintain those staffing levels.

"The downturn in the mining sector is definitely starting to take an affect," he said.

Earlier this month, Toowoomba-based company Geiger Civil and Electrical was forced to shed 20 workers after losing a lucrative Ergon Energy contact as a result of the downturn in mining activity.

Geiger Civil and Electrical managing director John Geiger said yesterday things were still looking extremely positive for the company despite the downturn in mining activity."We had a long-term contract that finished last month," Mr Geiger said.

"Unfortunately it was not renewed so therefore we had to release 20 employees.

"On the positive side we were able to retain 20 employees associated with the contract," he said.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise CEO Shane Charles said it was a shame the two companies had to shed staff but indicated there were others in the same boat.

"Both Geiger Civil and Electrical and Russell Mineral Equipment are outstanding companies," Mr Charles said.

"It is really disappointing for them.

"There is no harder thing to do in business that shed staff.

"Another Toowoomba company recently did not have their coal contract renewed resulting in 60 FIFO workers losing their jobs.

"However, the majority of those workers were not Toowoomba-based," he said.

Mr Charles said the coal mining sector was currently facing some very real challenges.

"Anything in relation to coal mining has seen a very big drop off," he said.

"Businesses in Toowoomba that are involved in coal mining, or provide services to the sector, have noted a very significant tightening.

"Fortunately our region is not too heavily affected by the downturn in the mining sector."

Mr Charles said the energy and gas sectors were still going ahead at full steam.

"Fortunately our region is not too heavily affected by the downturn in coal mining," he said.

"The energy sector is still very much booming.

"It will continue to be a big player for many years to come."

Topics:  coal mining economy employment jobs toowoomba

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