8 Dec 2010

Pike River mine workforce to be reduced

5:42 pm on 8 December 2010

The head of Pike River Coal says the workforce at its mine will have to be reduced, at least temporarily, when the company is re-establishing the operation.

Operations at the West Coast mine have been suspended since 29 workers were killed during a series of explosions that began on 19 November.

The mine, near Greymouth, employs 180 staff as well as contractors.

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall says there will have to be a review of operational requirements.

"We definitely will have to go back to a smaller workforce to re-enter and re-establish the mine and get it going again."

He says it is hoped the numbers will ramp up again quickly, but there will be a transition period.

Mr Whittall is rejecting suggestions the company might be put in receivership, as extremely premature.

He says the firm has been speaking with its bank and main shareholder New Zealand Oil and Gas and receivership has not come up in discussions.

Efforts continue to put out a fire burning inside the mine.