Greymouth counts cost of potential job losses
Thu, 30 Aug 2012 6:12p.m.
By Annabelle Tukia
Solid Energy has cut more jobs, axing another 65 workers at its Christchurch head office, a day after firing a 125 people at the Huntly East mine.
And in Greymouth they're counting the cost of the suspensions at Spring Creek mine while a decision is made on its future.
Greymouth retailer Clark Ellery says the region has been through some tough times in the last few years, with the Pike River disaster and a drop in tourists since the Canterbury quakes, so news that Solid Energy is likely to mothball its Spring Creek mine has come as a crippling blow.
“Two-hundred-and-fifty jobs, we've got a population of 8000 - it's probably the equivalent of 40,000 people in Auckland jobs getting affected, so that puts it in perspective,” says Ms Ellery.
Solid Energy broke the news to its workers yesterday telling them it had suspended all operations at the underground mine until it had reviewed its viability.
Spring Creek contributes about $37 million a year in wages to the local economy, with the average wage at the mine being $90,000.
“We do depend on the mining industry for a lot of injection of cash into our local economy, so when they don't know what they're doing I can see them tightening up their wallets and cheque books, and things like that,” says Ms Ellery.
And locals are bracing for the worst.
“I think it’s terrible for the West Coast because so many are going to lose their jobs and a lot of them will take off to Australia,” says another resident, Anne Parkinson. “The town just cannot handle 230 people out of work.”
“I'm part of a small business and I know what it was like after Pike River and it took nine months to build back up again, so the impact will be huge,” says Joy Willman.
The Spring Creek workers will all remain on full pay while the review is carried out, but once the mine's future has been decided, the money from one of the town's biggest employers will likely be sorely missed.
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31/08/2012 12:08:43 a.m.
Jim Seaview wrote:
QUOTE 1: "Solid Energy broke the news to its workers yesterday telling them it had suspended all operations at the underground mine until it had reviewed its viability.QUOTE 2: "The Spring Creek workers will all remain on full pay while the review is carried out".MANAGEMENT IS HAVING A REVIEW????"Well, look at what Solid Energy itself was saying in its own annual report, just last year.There, clearly listed amongst the targets for 2012 to implement new development mining process, to increase production at Spring Creek mine."Clearly Solid Energy's blueprint of a long term plan is less than 6 months.Solid Energy had just purchased Pike River Coal for around $6 million only at the beginning of LAST MONTH.WHY DID THEY BUY PIKE RIVER if things were so bad? I believe that Solid Energy do have responsibility for the 230 mine workers positions at the Spring Creek Mine and when we read the above statements which clearly listed amongst the targets for 2012 to implement new development mining process, to increase production at Spring Creek mine. QUESTIONS Did they implement new mining processes to make the operation more efficient and therefore lower their operating costs?QUESTIONDid they or have they looked at the option of building a local coal fired electricity power station? Build it at the entrance or underground of Spring Creek Mine to save transport costs and supply the local and national grid with just a couple of cables leaving Runanga?These 230 jobs represent a lot of families, their investment in local homes but more importantly - their community. You can guarantee that over half will leave the West Coast for Western Australia where many of the Pike River miners have set up their new lives. Local Schools, shops, transport, bus & rail services in the Runanga / Greymouth will all suffer. QUESTIONDid the directors and management take all the above into consideration?????? Make up your own mind.Give Gary Birchfield a go!!!
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