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FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2015
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
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NZ cycling big guns
head to Hokitika
A 51-year-old man from Ruatapu
was airlifted to Grey Base Hospital
yesterday after coming off second
best with a cattle beast. NZCC
Rescue Helicopter pilot Angus
Taylor said the man suffered
moderate to severe back injuries
after he was crushed against the side
of a cattle yard on a lifestyle block.
The incident occurred while stock
were being loaded on to a truck. Mr
Taylor said the animal apparently
became “a bit titchy” and charged
the man, pinning him against the
open day looks for
The Runanga Volunteer Fire
Brigade will hold a demonstration
open day tomorrow. Firefighter
Tina Singer said the idea was
to encourage people to consider
joining as volunteer firefighters by
giving the public a practical idea of
what the role entailed. “ It ’s really
giving people an insight into what
we do and attend,” Mrs Singer
said. The Runanga and Greymouth
brigades will give demonstrations
with the ‘jaws of life’ on a car crash,
and a kitchen fire. St John and
the police will also take part. Mrs
Singer said the Runanga brigade
was holding its own but had
recently lost three members due
to their commitments elsewhere.
Hopefully, enough new people
would step for ward tomorrow to
enable the brigade to reach its limit
of 18. “All they do is come in an
bring their enthusiasm and interest,”
Mrs Singer said. The open day for
prospective new members and the
public will run between 10.30am
A woman who suffers from
chronic pain was devastated to find
an offensive note on her car after
she used a disabled parking bay
in a Tesco Extra car park. Sarah
Metcalfe, who also experiences
severe muscle stiffness, discovered
the message on her windscreen
when she left the supermarket
in Clifton Moor, York, with her
13-year-old son, Jack. Written
on paper printed with two large
high-heeled shoes, the note said:
“ being fat and ugly doesn’t count as
disabled — park elsewhere”.
— Daily Mail
Showers turn to rain, heavy at times
Coast feels Stockton cuts
►$10m in wages sucked from Buller economy
The ramifications of a further 113 job losses at
Stockton will reverberate right down the West
Coast, over the railway line and all the way to
the Port of Lyttelton, West Coast-Tasman MP
Damien O’Connor says.
Solid Energy told workers in Westport
yesterday it planned to reduce production at
its Stockton open-cast mine from 1.4 million
tonnes a year to about one million tonnes from
July — and with no guarantee the mine will not
close altogether if the coal price continues to
The number of jobs — which peaked at 1100
only a few years ago — will be cut from the
current total of 397 to 246. Because the mine
has 38 roles vacant, the latest cutbacks will result
in 113 redundancies.
In worsening news for Westport, the town
will lose a further 110 jobs in a year’s time
when Holcim closes the Cape Foulwind cement
works. Holcim and Stockton are Westport’s two
In Reefton, Oceana Gold has already started
winding down its Globe Progress Mine, which
employees over 100 staff, most of whom
commute from Greymouth and Westport.
At Stockton, the mine losses have averaged
$2.1 million a month this financial year as the
international price of coal fell from $US120 a
tonne to $US83.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing
Union says the latest cuts will suck $10m out of
the Buller economy in wages alone.
Mr O’Connor said the Government would
have been considering the ramifications on the
rail line, and Lyttelton.
“ We are naive if we believe it’s just the workers
at Stockton the Government are concerned
The Coast had suffered through restructures
before, but this time it had access to capital and
“Development West Coast is going to be a key
part of it (future). If we want a bank, we have
Mr O’Connor warned there as still a huge gap
between the coal price and operational costs.
“It’s a dying town all right, there’s no doubt
about that, and that ’s a shame,” Development
West Coast chairman John Sturgeon, who once
worked at Denniston, told Radio New Zealand
“Some of these people have been there their
whole lives, it is not good,” Mr Sturgeon said.
“ I take issue with that,” Buller Mayor Garry
Howard said of Mr Sturgeon’s ‘dying town’
He was trying to look for ward, with a real estate
announcement looming, aimed at addressing the
glut of houses expected to be listed as people
The announcement yesterday could have been
worse, Mr Howard said.
“ He has failed to recognise that we still have
a beautiful West Coast area between the beach
and mountains. Industry has been changed, but
they ’re (DWC) in a position to help Buller.”
Nonetheless, he said Westport retailers and
contractors were finding things tight before the
announcement, and he expected a large number
of people would leave the district as a result of
the latest cutbacks.
A fair number of the 396 left ‘on the hill’ were
locals, he said.
Union organiser Garth Elliott said it would
take time for the impact of the job cuts to trickle
down, and compound.
About 94 workers in the collective contract
would get redundancy. They would work for a
bit, then live off the redundancy for a bit.
Mr Elliott said there were real fears yesterday
that Stockton was going to be closed.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said
Greymouth had been through the pain already,
with the loss of 500 jobs at Pike River and then
Westport would have to hunker down but
“there is always sunshine after rain”.
Radio NZ, referring to the downturn in the
price of coal, said this morning 1254 coalmines
were closing this year in China as they looked to
Solid Energy expects to finalise the restructure
on May 26. The company will then undertake
a process to select employees for the remaining
mining jobs and in other areas where fewer
people are required, with redundancies
confirmed by mid-June.
PICTURE: Solid Energy
A small part of the sprawling Stockton open-cast coalmine on the Stockton Plateau, north-east of Westport.
Spring Creek safe — for now
Minister Steven Joyce says jobs
cannot be “magic-ed out of thin
air” to replace the latest cutbacks
at Stockton — but he noted that
Westport is next in line for ultra-
Inter viewed on Radio New
Zealand this morning, he said
Westport had always been a
mining town. Coalmining would
survive on the Coast, but not on
the same scale. Under pressure
from interviewer Guyon Espiner,
Mr Joyce said jobs could not be
“magic-ed out of thin air”.
However, Westport was top of
the list for ultra-fast broadband,
and tourism was another growing
industry. Single lane bridges were
being replaced with two-lane
Asked again about Govern-
ment help, he said Development
West Coast — created with
$92 million of cash when the
Labour government shut down
native logging — had not been
able to manage the change in a
“significantly better way ”, though
he thought it was doing a bit
better more recently.
The Government had helped
by working to restructure Solid
Energy, and working with the
“It won’t be going back to the
way it was,” he said, citing low
international coal prices. “It won’t
operate at the previous level.”
He did not agree with
Development West Coast
chairman John Sturgeon that
Westport was “a dying town”, but
the challenge was to “grow” other
Govt answer: broadband, new bridges
The mothballed Spring Creek Mine could be
sold or, if it sur vives under Solid Energy, it will
only be as a specialised mine, chief executive
Dan Clifford said yesterday as the company cut
a further six jobs.
In September 2012, about 130 contractors
and 222 mine staff were made redundant
when the D unollie mine was put into ‘care and
The State-owned miner said yesterday it was
continuing with care and maintenance, but
cutting the remaining staff numbers from 14.5
It was costing $4.2 million a year, or $350,000
a month, to ser vice the mine.
Solid Energy said it believed there was still
value in the asset, but its future would not be as
a coking coal operation.
Mr Clifford said the future Spring Creek Mine
would probably focus on specialised coal for the
likes of silicon metal.
Silicon can be used to increase the strength of
aluminium alloys in car wheels, cylinder heads,
silicon chips, optical glass and solar energy.
The company first had to work out how to
operate the mine safely, and from there it could
do a business case, he said.
Other scenarios he outlined to the Greymouth
Star were selling the mine, or liquidation.
Mr Clifford said he believed there would be
interest if the underground mine was put on the
Despite slashing staff numbers, Solid Energy
believed it could continue to keep the mine in
care and maintenance but with a smaller team.
West Coast coalmining historian Peter Ewen
said it was good news that Solid Energy was
continuing to preser ve the asset and had not
“thrown in the towel”.
“Once they do and it floods, that ’s it for ever
getting it operating,” Mr Ewen said.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn met
with Solid Energy officials yesterday afternoon.
He said their comments about Spring Creek
were encouraging, as the specialist coal could be
used for surgical tools.
“There’s a good niche market there, they need
to build it,” Mr Kokshoorn said.
Solid Energy ’s
production is also a worry for
Midland Line rail workers as
Kiwi Rail prepares to meet with
the State-owned enterprise to
discuss its future requirements.
Solid Energy said yesterday
that from July, it would be
cutting production from 1.4
million tonnes to about one
Bathurst Resources has failed
to ramp up as expected, and
the Terrace Mine at Reefton
closed earlier this year. Spring
Creek has been in ‘care and
maintenance’ for two and a half
Solid Energy chief executive
Dan Clifford said today the
company was meeting its
contractual obligations with
However, he is still not ruling
out the company being put into
Kiwi Rail was not disclosing
much this morning, but said no
decisions had been made.
It did not respond to questions
about the minimum amount
of ser vices or tonnage required
to keep the West Coast-
Canterbury line viable.
“ What we are able to say at this
stage is that Kiwi Rail currently
schedules around 28 services
a week on the Midland Line
including freight and Tranz
Alpine,” the spokesman said.
Rail and Maritime Transport
Union South Island organiser
John Kerr said they were
“The reality is, the Midland
Line — regardless of the number
of trains running on it — you
still need a large number of staff
to maintain that line, given the
terrain it runs through,” Mr
“These are worrying times
for rail workers who work and
operate the Midland Line. We
will be keeping a close eye on
developments and Kiwi Rail.”
Mr Kerr said the vast majority
of traffic on the route was made
up of coal trains.
“There is an irreducible
minimum of staff needed to
keep the line running, regardless
of the number of trains, but
obviously the fewer trains the
more marginal the viability of
“This situation is an indictment
of the Government ’s failure to
properly oversee one of our most
valuable State-owned assets.”
Close watch on Midland Line railway viability
‘Westport a dying town’ comment offends mayor
TOUGH DEALS, NO JOKE.
THAT’S THE GRILL
OF MY DREAMS
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