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Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) on Tuesday said it is suspending work at the Australia’s oldest coal mine, Russell Vale Colliery, due to “significant financial losses” and “operational difficulties”.JSPL-controlled Wollongong Coal Limited (WLC) owns and operates Russell Vale Colliery and Wongawilli Colliery in the Southern Coalfields region of New South Wales in Australia. “Mining operations at the Russell Vale Colliery will be suspended and placed into ‘Care and Maintenance’, which will result in a reduction of the workforce by approximately 80 employees,” WLC said in a regulatory disclosure. When contacted, a JSPL spokesperson said, “Work force restructuring and rationalisation of man power has been undertaken at WCL, keeping in mind the present and emerging work load requirements.” Also Read – Punjab & Sind Bank cuts MCLR by up to 20 basis pointsThe acquisition of WCL is strategic to the Jindal Group in fulfilling its metallurgical coal (coke) requirements and the group remains optimistic about commencement of operations in the colliery in the near future, she added. “WCL is confident of obtaining the requisite approvals for longwall extraction in the Russel Valle Colliery and would soon commence operations,” the spokesperson said.JSPL acquired a major controlling stake and management control of WCL in 2013 and has invested over $400 million in the mine in the last two years. On the decision to suspend work, WLC chief Executive Milind Oza said: “This decision is not taken lightly and we have continually attempted to avoid this unfortunate situation by undertaking a series of workforce restructuring.” With partial extraction of longwall 6 at the 128-year-old Russell Vale Colliery complete and the firm experiencing significant losses, ongoing operations at the Colliery are simply not sustainable at this point in time, he added. Also Read – ‘The great gold bull market has begun’Oza said the firm continually attempted to avoid suspending work at the mine, which started operations in 1887, by undertaking a series of workforce restructuring. “Wollongong Coal has been facing a tough operating environment for some time including ongoing delays in the approval of the company’s Underground Expansion Project (UEP) and significant financial losses,” Oza said. According to reports, the closure of the mine has come amid the company’s failure to gain approval for expanding underground mining operations by state’s controversial Planning Assessment Commission in April. WCL reported a loss of $199.2 million in the financial year to March 31, following $169.4 million loss in the previous year, media reports said.