30 Nov 2010

Pike River Coal suspends contracts

9:26 pm on 30 November 2010

Pike River Coal has begun suspending major contracts and contract workers as work continues to save its burning mine on the West Coast.

Twenty-nine workers were killed after a series of expolsions at the mine near Greymouth which began on 19 November.

Mining recovery experts from Australia and New Zealand are trying to put out a coal fire and de-gas the mine where the bodies remain.

However, Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall says it could be weeks before that is achieved.

Mr Whittall says the company has met with contractors who have had men working underground and has begun a commercial review of all other contracts, including individual labour agreements.

Work is resuming to create a seal at the mine's entrance so recovery teams can begin pumping carbon dioxide and other neutralising gases into the mine late on Tuesday night.