26 Oct 2012

Jobs slashed at Spring Creek mine

6:30 pm on 26 October 2012

Workers at the Spring Creek mine say they are upset but not surprised by Thursday's announcement that 350 permanent staff and contractors will lose their jobs.

Solid Energy says the West Coast mine is uneconomic given extremely weak international coal prices.

Chief executive Don Elder says it will be mothballed and 220 permanent employees and 130 contractors have been made redundant. That's expected to cost Solid Energy about $10m.

Staff from Spring Creek and the Rocky Creek coal processing plant will be able to apply for positions in a team of 20 that will maintain both operations.

Dr Elder says the company is very aware of the impact its decision will have on the West Coast economy.

Solid Energy believes the mine still has the potential to produce steel-grade coal if the international market strengthens.

A meeting of Spring Creek staff was held on Thursday at Dunollie, near Runanga, north of Greymouth.

The state-owned firm announced in September it planned to mothball the mine. It also said 63 jobs would go at its Huntly East mine along with more than half the 313 positions at the Christchurch head office.

Political claim

Opposition parties say the Government is preparing the state-owned energy company for sale.

Labour leader David Shearer says the miners are a casualty of the Government's plan to make a quick return.

Mr Shearer says miners brought a proposal to the Government outlining ways to keep the mine running but it was rejected outright.

The Green Party's West Coast MP, Kevin Hague, says the Government is trying to maximise the company's share price.

Mr Hague says the job cuts will create a devastating knock-on effect and will likely lead to far more job losses on the West Coast.