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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Glencore <GLEN.L>, the world's biggest thermal coal trader, said on Monday it plans to lay off contractors at its coal operations in Australia's New South Wales state due to a prolonged market downturn.
Contractors at the Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) will depart next month, Glencore said in a statement. The miner holds a minority 49% stake of the joint venture with Yancoal <YAL.AX>, and manages the mine's communications.
"Hunter Valley Operations has initiated discussions with the mine's workforce on changes that will be made to the coal processing requirements from January 2021 as a result of ongoing economic and energy demand impact arising from the COVID-19 pandemic," Glencore said, without providing details about the number of contractors who would be made redundant.
"The changes will not impact HVO's permanent workforce numbers but some contracting roles in the mining, coal preparation and maintenance areas will not be required under the revised production plan."
In August, the miner and commodity trader said it was taking steps to manage its coal production profile, including temporary site and equipment shutdowns at a number of its Australian operations, to coincide with September school holidays.
Coal prices in Newcastle have climbed off 12-year lows of around $46 a tonne plumbed in September to about $55.88 a tonne currently. They are still well below cycle peaks of $120 hit in 2018.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)