Kiwi coal miner Solid Energy, which recently acquired the Pike River mine, has produced New Zealand’s first coal at the Reddale mine.
With the coal destined for the domestic market, Solid Energy’s general manager opencast operations, explained that "this is an important milestone for the company. While Reddale is a small mine, it is the first new mine we have opened in many years".
The mine will be operated by Doug Hood Mining, and will produce around 140 00 tonnes of coal over the next two to three years.
All mining and remedial work is expected to be completed within five years.
Solid Energy recently announced its intention to buy the embattled Pike River Coal mine.
The sale has been welcomed as a ‘giant step’ towards retrieving the bodies still trapped within the mine.
The coal miner was first touted as an acquirer of the Pike River mine in March last year.
Recovering the bodies entombed in the mine would be a first priority for the company, according to its chief executive Don Elder, and the company is committed to addressing the "many challenges" of making the mine economically viable and ensuring the wishes of the victims families are also met.
"As a non-negotiable part of that, the wishes of the families have to be a priority in considering all options including potential recovery, if feasible, of the 29 miners’ bodies, he said.
"The same applies to the unsecured creditors on the West Coast; any solution to invest in and work the mine needs to address that issue as a top priority."
Solid Energy released a statement which said it would not necessarily use the existing Pike Rover Coal Ltd assets and equipment for future mining.
While the purchase price has not been publicised, Pike River was valued at $400 million prior to the explosion.