Kokshoorn says Pike River open cut mine “win-win”

Tony Kokshoorn, Grey District Mayor has again called for an open cast mine at Pike River.

The Grey District Mayor said the operation’s potential extraction of $6 billion of coal would boost the West Coast economy.

The bodies of the 29 miners killed in the blasts which began on 19 November remain inside the mine, with gas levels too toxic and unpredictable for recovery teams to enter.

Koksoorn told New Zealand radio the mine would employment and economic opportunities, for not just the West Coast, but the rest of New Zealand.

"If we want to remain a wealthier country we need to get that coal."

To reach the coal seam in the open cut  mining operation at the site, located on conservation land in the Paparoa Ranges, 150m of rock overburden would need to be removed.

Kokshoorn said the council could hand over land to be placed in conservation estate and allow it to be dug up would then provide a net gain for the conservation estate.

“It could be win-win,” he said.

The idea has not been ruled out by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee, but he said he will await the finding of the Royal Commission into the disaster before making a decision.

The Royal Commission is due to conclude 31 March.

An inquest into the disaster found the miners would most likely have died as a result of the first explosion.

Image: Tony Kokshoorn is comforted by his wife at the memorial for the Pike River victims (smh.com.au)

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