Pike crews miss out on a full bonus

PIKE River Coal has completed the installation of its first hydro-mining system at its namesake underground mine in New Zealand – but missed out on extracting the first 1000 tonnes of coal by the September 24 deadline.
Pike crews miss out on a full bonus Pike crews miss out on a full bonus Pike crews miss out on a full bonus Pike crews miss out on a full bonus Pike crews miss out on a full bonus

Greg Rowan, senior inspector of mines, Queensland Government Natural
Resources & Mines

Blair Price

Pike workers were given the challenge to meet this hydro-coal milestone back in July 24.

“We started commissioning in the week beginning September 20, 2010,” new Pike chief executive officer Peter Whittall said.

“The process has gone very well with all of the gear synchronizing, by and large, as expected.

“We reached our roadway development target [790 metres] and while we came very close to achieving our target timeframe for delivering the 1000 tonnes, a number of factors such as lightning strikes that affected power supply to the mine, and minor equipment glitches, meant that target was delayed but only by a week.”

Nevertheless, the workforce will receive a 75% slice of the target bonus plus “the satisfaction of seeing coal flowing from the mine in increasing volumes,” Whittall said.

In the coming week the first of the main underground mine ventilation fans is expected to be fully commissioned, allowing hydro-mining to further ramp up.

Pike plans to continue to evaluate the roadway advance rate and hydro-extraction performance against its full-year forecast.

Whittall landed his role with the company in mid-September after his long-serving predecessor Gordon Ward left on October 1.

The company did not provide the reason for Ward’s departure when it was announced last month.

The Pike River mine has faced many geotechnical challenges during development.

Development costs led Pike to report a $NZ39 million loss for the 2010 financial year.

Shares in Pike closed up 7% to 92c yesterday afternoon.