26 Nov 2010

Mining key economic driver on West Coast - chamber

2:55 pm on 26 November 2010

The Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce says mining is a key economic driver on the West Coast and it hopes the Pike River coal mine will continue to be part of that.

The Chamber of Commerce has nearly 100 members on the West Coast, including Pike River Coal.

Chief executive Peter Townsend told Nine to Noon that mining has given the West Coast, and particularly Greymouth, a massive economic injection and provided the region with really good growth prospects.

But he said it was too early to form a firm view on the future of the Pike River coal mine.

Mr Townsend said the chamber is encouraging its members to financially support the miners' families.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says that while Greymouth's focus is on grieving families and recovering the men, business at Pike River mine needs to continue.

Mr Kokshoorn says the general feeling is that miners want to return to work but inquiries must first find out what happened at the mine.

Impact of disaster on transport

The Pike River disaster is expected have an impact on all involved in the transport of the company's coal to market.

Coking coal from the mine is trucked from the West Coast mine to a rail depot at Ikamatua, then taken to the Port of Lyttelton.

Some 40,000 tonnes has been exported in two shipments since the mine opened in 2008.

Those involved in moving it from the mine to markets are Solid Energy, KiwiRail, the Port of Lyttelton and a shipping company.

The Shippers Council says it's clear what's occurred will ripple right through the supply chain and the volume of coal is not now going to be there.

However, Chairman Greg Steed says that in a small way, fewer coal trains will ease the pressure on Port of Lyttelton, which was damaged in the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on 4 September.