7 Feb 2011

Open cast mine urged at Pike River

9:17 am on 7 February 2011

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn is pushing for an open cast mine to extract coal from around the Pike River mine.

An explosion there killed 29 men on 19 November. The mine remains closed, the company is in receivership and the remains of the men are still there.

Police are still in charge, with plans to hand over control to the receivers, incomplete.

Despite this hiatis, Mr Kokshoorn believes the West Coast community must look to the future.

He says an open cast mine would be another way to get at $6 billion worth of coal for regional and national benefit.

Mining sources say about a third of Pike River's coal is between 100 - 200 metres below the surface, which is economically worthwhile since demand in India and China has pushed coal prices higher.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee has been approached on the idea, but says it is not being considered because a Royal Commission of Inquiry has not yet even started.

Mr Kokshoorn concedes significant progress will have to await the findings of the Royal Commission. But he thinks that, in principle, it is an issue that must be faced.