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Solid Energy interested in Pike River Coal assets

World Coal,

Solid Energy, the state-owned and largest coal miner in New Zealand, has submitted an expression of interest to acquire the assets of Pike River Coal’s West Coast mine. Last year, 29 miners were killed at the mine in New Zealand’s worst mining disaster since 1914.  

According to Barry Bragg, chief operating officer of Solid Energy, says the company has a natural interest in Pike River Coal given its long history and experience of coal mining on the West Coast: “We believe we have the knowledge, experience and track record to mine the resource safely and economically”, he said. Solid Energy also has the long-term agreements with KiwiRail and Lyttleton Port of Christchurch to transport the coal from the West Coast to the port for export, as well as an agreement in place to rail coal from the Pike River mine to Lyttelton, noted Bragg.

Bragg also acknowledged the difficulties in bringing the Pike River assets back online: “While Solid Energy is keen to acquire the Pike River assets, we are cautious about the prospect as we don’t believe the resource and its quality are characterised, or the geology understood, to anywhere near the level required in these types of challenging conditions, even in the areas that have been mined. There was also considerable damage to the mine from the explosions so we also have doubts about how much of the existing infrastructure will be useable.”

However, the company would work with the receivers of Pike River Coal to see if an acceptable proposal can be put together for Solid Energy to acquire the mine and bring it back into safe production as soon as possible.

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