7 Jun 2014

Rural economic investment needed

7:05 am on 7 June 2014

The mayor of Buller District says the Government needs to invest more in the economic development of rural areas in the wake of job losses at Stockton mine.

Mine workers gathering for the meeting on Friday.

Mine workers gathering for the meeting on Friday. Photo: RNZ / Nicola Grigg

The state-owned coal miner Solid Energy announced on Friday it is cutting 137 staff and 50 contractors, as it reduces production at the export mine near Westport.

The company said it needed to reduce production by a quarter from 1.9 million tonnes a year to 1.4 million tonnes in the next financial year. It has blamed low international coal prices for the move.

Buller District Mayor Garry Howard, said many of those people will have to leave the district to find jobs, and he'd like the Government to do more to encourage economic development in rural areas.

He said the Government needs to stop investing all the money into Auckland, and put more into rural communities.

Mr Howard said the Government should do a serious investigation into things like developing carbon fibre manufacture on the West Coast.

Friday's announcement by Solid Energy is just the latest of cuts that have been made over the past two years that have seen the beleaguered state-owned enterprise reduce its staff of 1600 by half.

Solid Energy's Stockton coal mine.

Solid Energy's Stockton coal mine. Photo: PHOTO NZ