Mining giant Rio Tinto is cutting about 100 jobs from its coal mines as it tries to slash costs in the wake of last month's $US2.9 billion ($AUD2.8 billion) annual loss.
The jobs are understood to come from across its struggling central Queensland and NSW Hunter Valley coal mines.
It follows the miner cutting 140 jobs when it closed its Blair Athol mine in central Queensland late last year.
There have been at least hundreds of other job cuts across Rio in the last 10 months but the company has been unwilling to specify numbers and locations.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was unaware of the latest cuts.
CFMEU district vice president Chris Brodsky said Rio had told him several weeks ago that it would cut 100 fixed-contract positions at its Queensland Clermont mine this month but AAP understands the latest cuts are on top of that number.
He told AAP he understood Rio's coal operations across Australia were struggling, with the Clermont mine - where more than 600 people work - particularly under the microscope as "it had been bleeding $57 million a month" in costs.
Rio's net earnings from coal plummeted 68 per cent from $US1.24 billion ($A1.20 billion) in 2011 to $US402 million ($A388.46 million) in 2012. Rio would not comment on the job cuts, other than to say the Australian coal industry was facing a significant challenge to remain globally competitive due to high costs, lower coal prices and the strong Australian dollar.
"Rio Tinto is working to ensure the long-term resilience of its Australian coal operations by taking steps to improve productivity and significantly reduce costs in a range of areas," a spokesman said.
Those factors contributed to other coal majors such as BHP Billiton, Peabody Energy and Xstrata cutting thousands of east coast jobs last year. As he unveiled Rio Tinto's first loss last month, new chief executive Sam Walsh said the company was aiming to find $US5 billion ($A4.86 billion) of cost savings by the end of 2014.
The company's coal and aluminium operations are the focus of that cost-cut plan.
The company, the world's second-largest iron ore producer, has been criticised for its near total dependence on that commodity.
However, at a conference in Perth on Tuesday, Rio Pilbara president Greg Lilleyman reinforced the company's $US20 billion ($A19.33 billion) commitment to expanding iron ore operations to 360 million tonnes a year by 2015 from the current 250mtpa.
Rio shares were 38 cents weaker at $59.17 at 1421 AEDT on Tuesday.
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