Government officials are considering an application from Solid Energy to vary the conditions on its permit to mine at Pike River.
The financially-troubled company is looking at ways to make the site profitable.
One option would be to turn Pike River into an opencast coal pit, which could potentially stretch into Paparoa National Park.
The Government would have to remove constraints "implied by the national park" if this were to go ahead
Solid Energy said it is still very early days and that is only one of a number of options. Even if approved, it would still be many years off.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn welcomed the application, saying if it is feasible, then open-casting should be embraced at Pike River due to the high grade quality of the coal available there.