MORE coal industry jobs have gone, with coal-loader operator Port Waratah Coal Services cutting 34 positions from its Kooragang Island and Carrington terminals.
PWCS chief executive Hennie du Plooy said yesterday that the job cuts were part of a larger review of the business to cut costs and improve efficiencies.
Mr du Plooy justified the push to have Newcastle's fourth loader, T4, approved, saying short-term downturns and long-term trends were different things.
"We need to respond to the short-term economic conditions affecting the industry but also planning for the long term, ensuring we can deliver growth should the industry require it in future," Mr du Plooy said.
He said PWCS was shipping coal at the same rate as last year, when it exported 109 million tonnes.
If this trend continued, 2014 would be the first year in more than decade that PWCS exports had not risen year-on-year.
Mr du Plooy could not rule out a fall in exports this year.
"PWCS is like any other company in the coal industry, it is under the same pressures of low coal prices and a high Australian dollar," he said.
Various indicators show the price of coal could have further to fall, with the latest edition of the McCloskey Coal Report putting the "spot" price of Newcastle steaming coal at $74.30, a fall of about $2 a tonne in a month and about $8 a tonne less than at this time last year.
PWCS is owned by a consortium of coal companies and Japanese coal customers and funds its operations through a coal-handling charge.
Mr du Plooy said that charge had been cut from $4.50 in 2012 to $3.40 last year and $2.80 this year.
He said the 34 jobs to go comprised 12 operators, nine staff and 13 long-term contractors.
On figures supplied by PWCS, the job cuts are the equivalent of about 5 per cent of an overall workforce that comprised 215 operators and trades jobs, 200 staff and about 200 effective-full-time contractor positions.
Mr du Plooy said the unionised job losses would be dealt with by voluntary redundancy taking effect next month.
Consultations with the unions involved would be held in coming days.
Staff roles would be made redundant over the coming five weeks and the contractor cuts would take place progressively.
Mr du Plooy said the workforce dedicated to T4 had been disbanded last year.
Figures published by the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator indicate that NCIG is on track to export 43 million tonnes this year.