Since September last year, mine contractor McConnell Dowell has advanced 172m of the total length of 2300m of the mine access tunnel.
“At this stage, first coal is still on schedule for the December 2007 quarter; however, this is dependent on the actual geological conditions encountered," executive chairman Tony Radford told the Press.
Benchmark hard coking coal prices for 2007 had been settled by Australian coal producer BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) at $US96 ($NZ141.48) per tonne, comparing favourably with Pike River's earlier pricing expectations, Radford said.
Meanwhile, access works at Pike River have seen the completion of seven bridges and five major culverts to enable vehicle access from the public road to the tunnel portal.
Road surfacing is progressing using rock from the tunnel excavation.
“Other major contracts are well underway with coal mining equipment ordered and pipeline and electrical infrastructure construction well advanced. The design and contract for the coal preparation plant is also currently being finalised,” the company said.
The mine in the Paparoa Range, near Greymouth, is expected to produce 250,000t for the first year, rising to 1 million tonnes the following year. Initial coal production is scheduled to commence in the second quarter 2007.