More jobs lost at Solid Energy on the West Coast

Solid Energy's coal-handling facility at Ngakawau, north of Westport, which services Stockton Mine.
SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Solid Energy's coal-handling facility at Ngakawau, north of Westport, which services Stockton Mine.

Solid Energy will cut another 41 jobs at its West Coast open-cast Stockton mine.

Current employee numbers at Stockton are 225, down from around 1100 four years ago.

All workers were called to a meeting in Westport at 4pm on Tuesday where managers announced 41 people would be made redundant. 

Heavy machinery operation at the Stockton opencast mine in the Buller region of the West Coast.
Supplied

Heavy machinery operation at the Stockton opencast mine in the Buller region of the West Coast.

Buller Mayor Garry Howard said the company was restructuring to make it more financially viable for a buyer. 

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"I feel for the workers and the families and it's a further hit for the community but the cuts are necessary so that the company is in a stronger financial position for sale," he said. 

09/02/2010 BUSINESS PHOTO:Supplied.
Digger at Stockton Mine, West Coast. supplied for Business by Solid Energy.
SUPPLIED.

09/02/2010 BUSINESS PHOTO:Supplied. Digger at Stockton Mine, West Coast. supplied for Business by Solid Energy.

He was still hopeful a buyer could be found to keep some jobs in the community. 

A statement from Solid Energy said the 41 redundancies were part of "ongoing efforts to improve financial performance".

Consultation between the mine's workers and management began Monday afternoon, the company confirmed.

"The proposed changes are part of Solid Energy's ongoing response to falls in the international price of hard coking coal.

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"They build on substantial efficiencies already gained at the mine and will further strengthen the financial performance of the operations," the statement said. 

Staff members have until March 22 to provide any feedback on the proposal before a final decision is announced around March 30.

Solid Energy had been reviewing whether the Stockton Mine should be closed due to plunging global coal prices.

The redundancies are to prevent Stockton from closing and the review is done for now. 

The state-owned company, which entered voluntary administration in August 2015 in a bid to minimise loses to creditors, is undergoing a complete sale of its assets across New Zealand.

The company made 184 employees and contractors at the Stockton mine redundant in July 2014 and another 151 in May 2015. 

Last year, the mine's output was reduced from 1.9 million tonnes (Mt) a year to 1 Mt and its losses averaged $2.1 million a month. 

For the year to June 30, 2014, the state-owned coalminer posted a loss of $182m, down from a loss of $335m in the previous year.

Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford told a Parliamentary Select Committee in February the company had removed about 40 per cent of the operation plant from the mine, north of Westport, in recent weeks. Asked whether the mine could be closed, Clifford said employees were aware it was an option being considered.

The West Coast region has suffered a series of blows in recent years. OceanaGold goldmine has closed, forcing the loss of 60 jobs in Reefton; Westport's Holcim Cement plant closed this year, taking 120 jobs along with it; and more than 200 people lost their jobs when Spring Creek mine was mothballed in 2012. 

 

 

 - Stuff

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