The global economic downturn has now cost 1000 mining jobs across the region in the past six months, according to the Nationals MP John Cobb.
The latest casualties are almost 350 mine workers in Parkes, who yesterday lost their jobs as Northparkes mine temporarily closed down a project under construction.
The Rio Tinto-owned copper and gold mine made 26 workers redundant and finished up the contracts of 320 contractors early.
It has suspended construction on the E48 underground mine, a development under construction for a little more than 12 months and 75 per cent complete.
The suspension is in place until market conditions improve, a Northparkes spokesman said.
He could not comment on how Northparkes would restaff if and when construction restarted.
Parkes’ economy won’t be affected as much as areas such as Forbes, Peak Hill, Trundle and Tullamore, where many contractors came from, according to Parkes mayor Ken Keith.
“Some of those contractors were going to finish in 12 months anyway,” he said. “So this is a deferred benefit.
“It’s not all doom and gloom but it is disappointing the E48 mine has been deferred, but at some stage in the future, one or two years, some of those people could come back and complete it.”
Northparkes’ E22 open cut mine will continue operating, general manager Dr Craig Stegman said.
The closure results from a “significant reduction in the copper price of over 60 per cent since June last year, combined with the global economic downturn”, he said.
Northparkes’ owner Rio Tinto last year announced it would reduce capital expenditure and operating costs, slashing global workers by 8500 contractors and 5500 employees.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult time for all associated with Northparkes,” Dr Stegman said.
“We will do everything we reasonably can to assist affected employees and their families during this difficult period.”
A combination of redundancy and ex-gratia packages will be provided to the 26 affected Northparkes employees, including financial planning, job-seek assistance and professional counselling. Fixed-term contractors will also be eligible for entitlements.
Calare MP John Cobb said more than 1000 mine jobs had gone in the past six months .
In November, Endeavor mine at Cobar reduced its workforce from 233 to just 115, with mining operations involving day roster only and ore production slashed from 658,000 tonnes to 420,000 annually by 2009/2110.
It had already sacked nearly 200 contractors in June and 151 staff and contractors in August.
And in December, Tritton copper mine in Girilambone suspended work due to falling copper prices, affecting 170 staff.
Dubbo MP Dawn Fardell urged the Parkes community not to lose heart following the suspension of the E48 underground mining project.
Ms Fardell said it was important to remind the community that 250 staff and 300 contractors are still employed by Northparkes existing operations, generating vital income and economic activity for the Parkes community.