Mining layoffs all part of 'perfect storm'

Solid Energy's predicament because of slumped global coal prices reflects Bathurst Resources' dilemma.

Bathurst has spent more than $300 million in five years to start up a coking coal export mine next to Stockton on the Denniston Plateau above Westport, but the price plunge has forced postponement until prices recover.

While eking out some cashflow from three existing South Island coal mines, Bathurst has purchased for domestic supply, which is set to increase. Bathurst successfully sought $8.03 million from institutional investors in April, and is seeking a further $2.7 million in a rights issues to shareholders.

With Solid Energy's announcement yesterday about the almost 200 Stockton job losses, the Coal Action Network Aotearoa (Cana) released a statement saying the latest Solid Energy layoffs made it clear communities ''cannot rely on a boom and bust industry for their job security'', member Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

''Coal prices are not going up again any time soon, renewable energy is getting cheaper all the time, and climate change means that most of the coal currently available to mine can never be burned anyway,'' Ms Fitzsimons said.

She said the latest redundancies were all part of a ''perfect storm'', which former Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder talked about, before he resigned.

Cana released its own report last month ''Jobs After Coal - a Just Transition for coal mining communities'', co-authored by Ms Fitzsimons, which looks at preparing West Coast communities to transition from coal mining to other industries.

- simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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