In a statement on its website, the Anglo-Swiss commodity group Glencore said: "This is a considered management decision given the current oversupply situation and reduces the need to push incremental sales into an already weak pricing environment.

"We remain confident in demand growth for our products and believe that the supply and demand balance will be restored in the medium term."

The move is unlikely to affect employees who conduct critical maintenance. However, thousands of coal workers will be forced to take three weeks of paid annual leave due to the shut down.

The decision to temporarily halt coal business in the country will result in reduced output of about five million tonnes from the Australian assets, according to Glencore.

Glencore’s total managed production in Australia is forecast at 94 million tonnes this year, up on 81 million tonnes of thermal and coking coal in 2013.

The company has 13 Australian mine complexes across New South Wales and Queensland, and employs about 8,600 staff.