Mining machinery maker Caterpillar will slash up to 200 jobs in Tasmania when it moves part of its operation to Thailand.

The company has told employees it is restructuring the production of underground mining equipment at its Burnie plant.  Part of the operation will be moved to Rayong in Thailand within months, fast-tracking a previous decision.

Caterpillar says up to 200 jobs are expected to be affected.

“This shift in production will allow us to streamline the Burnie manufacturing footprint and focus on the production of underground mining machine models that are largely used within the Australian market,” Burnie manager Dan Barich said in a statement.

The plant will continue to make three models of loaders and trucks, the company said.

The move is the latest to hit manufacturing in Tasmania’s northwest, which has lost hundreds of jobs in recent months and has the state’s highest unemployment rate.

Caterpillar’s sales and revenues totalled $60 billion worldwide in 2011.