Mining communities wait with bated breath
Tue, 28 Aug 2012 9:47p.m.
By Jenny Suo
Two mining communities are tonight waiting for news that could see hundreds of workers out of the job.
Huntly and Greymouth are on the block as Solid Energy prepares to make an announcement tomorrow on where the axe will fall.
Workers at Spring Creek mine have reason to be nervous - they've been called to a meeting at 1pm tomorrow, but if the mine closes, they wont be the only ones affected.
Cliff Sandrey's buses run workers to and from the mine every day and his livelihood is also under threat.
“[I am going to] try and stay positive and see how it goes, at the moment there’s no indication of what its going to be,” says Mr Sandrey.
But the workers fear the worst. Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder has already announced a company-wide review following a 30 percent slump in export coal prices.
The mine is currently in a development phase which means its not likely to produce coal this year, and it's costing $5 million a month to keep it open.
Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn is appealing to Mr Elder not to make a knee-jerk reaction.
“We’re worried there will be lay offs and he’s saying there will be major restructuring, he says he’s trying to save the company,” says Mr Kokshoorn.
Miners are also on edge in the Waikato where the future of the Huntly East mine is in doubt - almost all of its coal is bought by New Zealand Steel's Glenbrook mill but the contract is up for renewal next year.
Carol Sharpe's husband has worked for the mine for 30 years.
“I've been told that possibly they will bring coal back from Australia because they send the iron ore sand over there and no doubt they will fill a boat bring it back with coal,” says Ms Sharpe.
So far that's just talk, but shop owner Janet Clark says if the mine is closed the impact on the town of 7,000 would be huge.
“Our men will travel overseas to look for work; they've still go to provide for their families, and we will lose business,” says Ms Clark.
The mine has been in production for 34 years. Union leaders will meet tomorrow but say they have no reason to think it won't make 35.
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25/09/2012 6:39:45 a.m.
Taylah Thompson wrote:
west side rules and keep going spring creek
29/08/2012 7:52:11 a.m.
James J.Read wrote:
THe closure of any mine clearly hits local economies. However, sadly it is a worldwide trend as I know, coming from Britain, where the majority of mines have closed in the last 50 years.
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