The West Coast community is deeply hurting following Solid Energy's announcement that 41 people at Stockton Mine will lose their jobs, Buller's mayor says.
Workers were told the news at a meeting this afternoon, and have two weeks to give feedback before a final decision is made.
The number of employees at the mine has dwindled to 225 over the past four years, down from 1100.
Solid Energy said the redundancies were in response to falls in the international price of hard coking coal, and would save it money.
The company is still deciding whether to close.
Buller mayor Garry Howard said he was hopeful it won't have to close down.
"I just feel for those families and for the community that has just had a series of restructures.
"By the end of this year we should see a change of name tag for that particular mining operation - who it will be - and we've got a wee way to go before we find that out."
The state coal mining company is in voluntary administration and will spend the next few years selling its assets if creditors agree to freezing its debts.
"The mine already works substantially from Monday to Friday and the proposed change would continue this development," the company said in a statement.
"The proposed changes are part of Solid Energy's on-going response to falls in the international price of hard coking coal. They build on substantial efficiencies already gained at the mine and will further strengthen the financial performance of the operations."