Coal miners march to protest mine closure

New Zealand coal miners will march against Solid Energy's decision to close its Spring Creek mine.

It comes just days after Solid announced massive cost cutting across the company, which included laying off a number of staff.

Its main proposal include cutting staff and upgrades at Huntly East; suspending work at Spring Creek; selling or closing its biodiesel business; looking at coal gasification; slashing expenditure by NZD$100 million; and 'restructuring the organisation", which will further reduce the workforce.

At its Huntly East mine Solid will cut investment into upgrading ventilation, and reducing staff levels from 234 positions down to 171.

It will also slash around 60 contractor positions from its mine ventilation upgrade project.

Solid will stop work at Spring Creek almost immediately.

The miner explained that the "Spring Creek Mine has struggled to be profitable for some time. It has been in a development phase since the end of 2011, with minimal coal production as tunnels were being formed into a new resource area and underground infrastructure installed to allow this new coal block to be mined.

"It is not expected to return to full production until early in 2013 and will need a further $70 million of operational cash and capital investment to reach that point and at current market prices will not generate a positive margin."

Now Spring Creek miners will "march for work", according to NZ City.

The miners are supported by the mining union, Area mayor Tony Kokshoorn, MP Damien O'Connor, and Pike River families spokesperson Bernie Monk.

The Pike River mine is located on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, near the Spring Creek mine.
"Our community has been absolutely battered in recent years, first with the Pike River tragedy and now this," the EPMU's Garth Elliot said.

"We're marching together to say to Solid Energy and to the government that they can't just abandon Greymouth."

Last month Italian coal miners protested the decision to close their mine by stealing 350 kilograms of explosives and barricading themselves inside the underground mine.

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