In a statement, Sibelco said it planned to maintain production until it had enough silica sand stock to meet existing customer obligations, which should take until the middle of June 2013. The statement further said that once production ceased, then jobs would be lost but did not say how many.
Sibelco stated there would be ongoing haulage activities to meet existing customer commitments and it would maintain a presence at the silica sands site.
Sibelco has explained the move was necessary after a 30 per cent increase in exchange rates over the past three years, the Australian dollar being consistently above parity with the US dollar, rises in logistics and storage costs and a slump in demand in the domestic glass market.
It also said increasing competition in the export sand market, along with increased compliance and operating costs, had cut into profitability.
“The North Stradbroke Island silica sands team has worked diligently to counter the effects of these external factors and Sibelco has also trialled alternate mining strategies over the past 18 months,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, sales volumes have continued to decrease to a point where ongoing permanent production at the site is no longer viable.
“Unfortunately a number of positions will be made redundant. However, in as many cases as possible, we will seek alternate employment within Sibelco on Straddie as part of our mineral sands operations or elsewhere within the Sibelco Group.”
Source: Bayside Bulletin