Key hopes mine stays open

KATE CHAPMAN IN RAROTONGA
Last updated 09:22 30/08/2012
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GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
MINING HOPE: John Key says the suspension of Spring Creek mine has nothing to do with the proposed partial sale of Solid Energy.

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Prime Minister John Key hopes Solid Energy will be able to keep the Spring Creek mine open.

Staff at the West Coast mine were called to an hour-long meeting yesterday and told operations would be suspended. It leaves 230 jobs in limbo as the company decides whether it will re-open the mine.

Key said he was glad an interim step to try and save the mine had been taken.

"From the Government's point of view, it would be great if the mine could remain open and operational and we're just please that they're taking an interim step to really fully consider what could happen."

There would still be significant resources for the region in the meantime as staff remained on full pay, he said. But it was a hard workforce to maintain with a lot of demand for miners in Australia.

"In the end Solid Energy have the right, obviously, to make their own decisions, but they've got a new incoming chairman and it's for him to work with the chief executive to work out what happens next."

Key said the suspension had nothing to do with the proposed partial sale of Solid Energy. It was solely an economic issue based on the price of coal and the speed at which it was being taken out of the mine, he said.

Solid Energy had always had an "optimistic" view of coal prices, Key said.

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