Workers at the Davyhurst Gold Mine say Eastern Goldfields Limited owes them unpaid wages. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Sam Tomlin)
Employees of a trouble-plagued gold miner in Western Australia’s Goldfields say the company has failed to pay them thousands of dollars in wages and superannuation.
Several present and former employees at the Davyhurst Gold Mine, 130 kilometres north-west of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, have approached the ABC, saying operator Eastern Goldfields Limited has been only sporadically paying their wages since the middle of the year.
A spokesman for the Fair Work Ombudsman confirmed it was investigating the workers’ complaints, but declined to comment further.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, workers described the financial pressure as having an immense impact on their physical and mental health.
“Some people are owed four months wages,” one senior employee said.
He said the situation had left co-workers unable to meet mortgage, rental and utility payments, forcing them to take out personal loans and rely on charity from family, friends and colleagues to get by.
The mine workers said Eastern Goldfields had rebuffed their efforts to find out exactly when they would be paid.
“I was told the relevant person was sick, in a meeting or not at their desk,” another staff member said.
He said on-site morale had suffered due to the wage issues, alleging safety at the mine had also been impacted.
However, The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety said it had not received any complaints of safety issues at the mine.
“Examining the record regarding notices and defects, the site does not appear to be performing below standard,” Regional Inspector of Mines Christina Folley said.
Eastern Goldfields executive chairman Michael Fotios. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Jarrod Lucas)
Mine boss acknowledges ‘difficult’ circumstances
In a statement released to the ABC, Eastern Goldfields executive chairman Michael Fotios said the company was working with the Fair Work Commission to keep employees fully appraised of their circumstances.
“We recognise this hasn’t been the easiest period in the company’s history,” Mr Fotios said.
“We appreciate our employees ongoing support and understand their frustrations.
“I can assure that any outstanding payments will be made as soon as possible.”
The company’s difficult 2017 has seen its shares suspended from trading on the Australian Stock Exchange since August, with disgruntled contractors threatening to picket Mr Fotios’ presentation at the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum earlier that month.
One contractor, GR Engineering, has launched Supreme Court action over what it alleges is nearly $10 million in unpaid work it conducted at Davyhurst for Eastern Goldfields, prompting an immediate counter-suit from the company.
The company has also been plagued by cashflow issues, with a quarterly activities report released earlier this month revealing it had just $37,000 in the bank as of September 30.
But it has since received a $17.5 million investment lifeline from private equity firm Hawke’s Point Holdings, part of a planned $30 million capital raising announced to the ASX last week.