Gladstone Power Station blames rising costs for lost jobs

RISING costs are being blamed for job cuts at the Gladstone power station that will almost halve its coal operations area.

NRG Gladstone power station has allowed an unknown number of positions to disappear through natural attrition over the past year, with two involuntary redundancies and five voluntary redundancies announced on Tuesday.

The business is seeking expressions of interest for voluntary redundancies from the 20 staff in the coal operations area.

The news comes after a  difficult 12 months for traditional industry in Gladstone, which has seen job cuts across the board including 130 from Queensland Alumina Limited last year and another 53 after the closure of the Austicks factory.

Industry leaders admit that times are tough for the energy industry, which has to focus on innovative ideas to keep going, after Boyne Smelters Limited revealed last week that it was planning for life with less power supply.

In a statement to the media, NRG described the job cuts as a "business optimisation" announcement that would help the operation meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive business environment.

NRG Gladstone acting general manager Stephen Lewis said in the past five years NRG had implemented major improvement programs to increase the efficiency of the business, but it  had not been enough.

"Over the past year we have been able to reduce labour costs by not replacing some employees who have retired or resigned; however, our current projections show that this approach alone will not accomplish the labour cost reductions required over the next two years."

Gladstone Industry Leadership Group chief executive Kurt Heidecker said energy was a profitable industry, but it  did have its highs and lows.

"It's not an easy time to operate and each industry is focused on safely producing their products as cheaply and efficiently as they can," he said.

"We can't influence the price, but we can influence how efficient production is."

Key facts

  • The station is  situated on an 80ha  site,  5km north-west of Gladstone.
  • It employs 340 people at last count.
  • The station contributes 1680 megawatts (6 x 280) capacity to the state grid.
  • The Boyne Smelters consumes 60% of the station's output.
  • Approximately 11,000 tonnes of coal are used each day.
  • The station requires 245 million litres of cooling water every hour.

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