Greymouth anxious over mining jobs
Wed, 29 Aug 2012 12:42p.m.
By Kloe Palmer
In just over an hour, Solid Energy’s employees will know what's happening to their jobs as the company announces how it will cut costs.
The state-owned enterprise posted a $200 million loss for the year, and falling coal prices have forced a company-wide review.
There are fears of job losses for mine workers at Huntly East and Spring Creek in Greymouth..
Greymouth's a town waiting, anxious to know how whether jobs will go when Solid Energy announces cut backs this afternoon.
Local Phil Lemon says people are worried.
“I think that there's a lot of fear in the town. Pike was a big enough disaster, and now to have this looming over so many families because everyone's connected through the mining industry.”
Two weeks ago Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder revealed Spring Creek Mine has been losing more than $5 million a month and its operations were under review, leaving miners worried for their jobs and locals worried about what that would mean for their town.
“Take the mines away and we've got nothing, even the fishing has packed up so everyone will be moving,” one local says.
If Spring Creek shuts 230 jobs could go, and while most miners call the coast home, without work there's not much keeping them here.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it could be a big problem for the area.
“Miners are on large wages and when they lose a job here they will chase the high wages in Australia, because we can't match those wages in other industries.”
He says Solid Energy needs to value the coast's miners, because if coal prices rise they'll be needed again.
Mr Kokshoorn says the town's already lost too many workers. Most of Pike River's former employees went overseas when that mine shut after the tragic explosion in 2010.
“We lost 150 workers, most went to Australia and the same will happen again, it was only last week the Australian companies were advertising for miners here in our paper. So yes if they lose those miners, it will be extremely hard to get them back.”
All be revealed when Solid Energy bosses meet with Spring Creek employees at 1:30pm today.
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