Pike progress on rockfall remedy

PIKE River Coal is closer to entering production, as it expects a continuous miner to start up within the week at its namesake underground coal mine in New Zealand’s South Island.

Blair Price

The Kiwi company was set back by a large rockfall in February, which blocked the lower section of its recently finished ventilation shaft, pushing back the previous production plans.

Australian contractor Avko Mining is currently working on a 24/7 basis on an Alimak raise shaft to reconnect the ventilation shaft, and Pike said the job was on track for completion by the end of May.

In the meantime, the company is spending $NZ800,000 ($US456,722) on a 60cm-diameter slimline hole to provide enough air for the continuous miner to roll out.

Once full ventilation is restored, Pike will kick off production with all three roadway development machines and the in-seam drilling unit running.

Between October and December, production will be further boosted by the full commissioning of hydromining equipment, which Pike said would cut coal at an average rate of more than 2000 tonnes a day.

The hydro monitor cannons (high-pressure water cannons) are still being customised in Australia after initial delivery from Japan.

Pike said two “guzzlers” would be used to guzzle up the coal cut by the hydro monitors and crush it to less than 200mm before feeding it into steel flumes.

“Water and gravity will carry the crushed coal to the pit bottom coal handling facilities, where it will be further crushed to 35mm so it can be pumped via the water-fed slurry pipeline 10 kilometres to the coal preparation plant at the bottom of the Pike River valley,” the company said.

On the recruitment front, Pike said the main focus had been on production staff, with 110 employed out of the total 150 needed for full production.

The New Zealand and Australia-listed company had a cash position of $NZ9.27 million at the end of March, recently raising $45 million through a $41 million rights issue and a $4 million placement.

As part of its environmental activity, Pike reported it had slain 99 rats and 27 stoats during the March quarter to help create a safe haven for native birds in the mine area.

Pike shares closed up 1c today to 60c on the Australian Securities Exchange.

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