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Pike River set back

A FAULT has put a snag in Pike River Coal 's plans, delaying start-up of production by two months and cutting this year's expected output by 40,000 tonnes at the company's Pike River mine.

Angie Tomlinson
Pike River set back

The New Zealand prospective coal producer has had to halt its Pike River coal mine tunnel near the Hawera fault and construct pit bottom facilities with conventional drill and blast tunnelling equipment.

The move means the mine will now intersect the coal seam in early July instead of the previously announced late April 2008.

Since the end of October, the Pike River tunnel has progressed 1960m and is 85% complete. Management now plan to continue the tunnel to within 50m of the Hawera fault.

The tunnel will then halt to allow excavation to be completed in the hard gneiss with conventional tunnelling equipment and explosives.

Once the barrier to the fault is traversed, the tunnel will be deemed to be a coal mine and all non-flameproof equipment will be removed and replaced with coal equipment.

The roadheader that will drive the tunnel past the fault was delivered to the mine in early January and the continuous miners are expected to arrive mid-2008.

The company reforecast expected coal production for the first 12 months to 200,000t.

"A more conservative build-up is appropriate as the new boreholes show more rock will be excavated in the pit bottom area than previously modelled. There is no impact on annual production rates when hydro operations are underway in the following year," the company said.

Pike River has completed the final design of the pit bottom, excavation has started and construction of the coal preparation plant is well underway.

With construction in full swing and production imminent, the company is now seeking 45 trades and general production workforce in time for first coal. The employees will be added to current staff of 27.

Pike River also yesterday announced a $NZ100 million new equity and senior debt package, which will enable it to better complete development of the mine.

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