THE Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has reacted with scepticism to BHP Billiton's decision to place its Gregory Crinum coking coal operation up for sale.
The mine is owned and operated by BMA, a joint venture between BHP and Japanese company Mitsubishi Corp, and employs about 300 workers, most of whom live in the nearby town of Emerald.
The two-part operation includes the currently operating underground Crinum mine and the open cut Gregory mine, which was shut down last September.
CFMEU district vice president Stephen Smyth said the decision would cause distress for some workers.
"For employees it can be a traumatic time," Mr Smyth said.
"If they (BHP) get the price they want, they'll sell it. If they don't, they won't.
"I don't for a minute accept they're not making money. They're still very profitable.
"I just think it's unfortunately the workers are the ones that suffer; the corporations will continue to do business as they've done for years."
A BHP spokesman said no decision had yet been made about the future of the Gregory Crinum Complex.
"Any decision to proceed with divestment, or otherwise, is unlikely for six to nine months and will depend on market interest and other commercial factors," he said.
"In addition to divestment, the company is assessing options for the Gregory Crinum Complex to further extend the operation's life."
The spokesman said if BHP did not sell the complex, it would continue to operate the Crinum underground mine as normal.
"BMA will regularly engage with its employees and their representatives as well as key stakeholders should the divestment process proceed further," he said.
Mr Smyth said at least one other mine in the region was up for sale.
"It's no different to what Anglo Coal has done at Callide Mine," Mr Smyth said.
Callide has been on the market since late 2010.
"They (BHP) have put it out there to see if they get the price they want," Mr Smyth said.
"From a union perspective, we're going to ensure our members - no matter which way it goes - are looked after."
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