By: Greg Amos, Editor
Got a bill to settle with Walter Energy’s Wolverine Mine? Just send it to Brookswood, Alabama.
“We are transitioning our accounts payable function to our Walter Energy offices in Alabama on April 30th 2012,” said a recent notice to employees in Tumbler Ridge, a move that means some employees are being moved to the Wolverine mine site.
The change is a matter of finding efficiency within company operations, explained Walter Energy corporate communications manager Nina Ng.
“To create long-term growth for our operations and stable jobs for the local community, Walter Energy needed to integrate its administrative systems and processes to better support our operations,” she said. “An integrated accounts payable system will result in improved services for our local suppliers.”
The move applies to all of Walter Energy’s mine sites in the region; all billing for the Willow Creek and Brule mines near Chetwynd will also go through the Alabama office.
It’s not proving to be a popular decision at the Tumbler Ridge office; as one employee put it, “no one is happy about this.”
Asked whether any accounting employees have been laid off, Ng responded that the integration of systems and processes “has resulted in the creation of jobs in the local community.”
“As a result of our integration, we have added some accounting support positions at our Wolverine mine site and will continue to evaluate the site’s needs based on our growth and development plans,” she said.
The U.S. office doing accounts for a Canadian mine won’t cause confusion in terms of taxes or currency transfers, said Ng, as the U.S. and Canadian offices already work closely together.
Walter Energy’s northeast B.C. operations remain a vital part of the company’s success, said Ng. Despite the loss of some accounting jobs, the company is still actively recruiting to fill about 175 positions.
In its quarterly report released yesterday (May 2), Walter Energy highlighted the significance of its Canadian metallurgical coal production in first quarter revenues of $632 million.
“First-quarter met coal production of 3 million metric tons was better than our outlook for 2.8 to 2.9 million metric tons and set a new quarterly record,” said chief executive officer Walt Scheller in a press release. “I am particularly pleased that consolidated cash costs per ton of hard coking coal (HCC) have improved 12 per cent when compared with the fourth quarter of 2011. Walter is on target to achieve our production targets while continuing to focus on further cost reductions.”
Walter Energy merged with Western Coal in late 2011, and now employs approximately 4,400 employees and contractors with operations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.