Solid Energy

September 25th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I feel so sorry for people on the West Coast. First they lose Pike River in the worst possible way, and then they lose Spring Creek. The Press reported:

Christchurch and the West Coast have both been dealt major job hits after Solid Energy’s announcement to slash about 440 positions nationwide.

It was a black Monday on the West Coast in particular after the state-owned company said it would mothball Spring Creek Mine and slash 360 jobs.

Solid Energy also announced proposals to cut more than half the jobs at its corporate, support and development divisions. Staff numbers would plummet from 313 to 150, it said, with most of those affected working at the Christchurch head office in Addington.

Those in Chch are not so bad off:

However, city leaders say opportunities in Christchurch’s rebuild could soften the blow for the white-collar workers in Christchurch and blue-collar workers on the coast.

Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said Christchurch was poised to move into the most extraordinary period of reconstruction and he hoped many skilled people at Solid Energy would find jobs there.

“I really believe the opportunities are just beginning to grow,” Townsend said.

Mayor Bob Parker said while it would be stressful for staff losing jobs, he was aware of several organisations looking for skilled people in the services sector .

“I think there will be opportunities here, even if in the short term for some people they are not the ideal opportunities.”

He also said the city needed “engineers, builders, plumbers, painters, construction workers and administration staff”.

About 31,000 people live on the West Coast, meaning one in 86 people was affected by yesterday’s announcement.

The reality is the global price of coal has plummeted, and nothing can protect a company from that, except some hedging in the short term. The price per tonne has been as low as $120 and Solid Energy needs $200 just to break even. The price has dropped 30% or so in just two months. Companies around the world are laying off staff also.

Steven Joyce has said:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is calling on objectors to Bathurst Resources’ Escarpment Mine project near Westport to support 225 new jobs on the West Coast by withdrawing their court action.

“The Escarpment Mine is an open cast mining project that is ready to go and would provide 225 jobs and incomes for workers and their families on the West Coast straight away,” Mr Joyce says.

“The developer is being held up from opening the Escarpment Mine by on-going litigation that has gone through the Environment Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

“These on-going objections are to resource consents which were granted more than a year ago. The whole consenting process for this development has now taken a staggering seven years.

“I call on those objectors to the mine to reconsider their appeals and consider the economic future of the West Coast and its people.

“I also call on the EPMU, Labour and the Greens to join my call and back the West Coast community by supporting the immediate development of the Escarpment Mine.

“The political opposition can’t have it both ways. They can’t on one hand moan about job losses and then on the other not support initiatives that would create the sort of jobs that they’re asking for.

I think there is an unnecessary comma in the second to last paragraph!

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36 Responses to “Solid Energy”

  1. YesWeDid (1,003 comments) says:

    If Steven Joyce isn’t happy about the length of time it is taking Bathurst Resources to get their resource consents through the court system why doesn’t his government do something about it?

    Bob Parker & Pete Townsend seem to live in some sort of positive thinking la-la land, I don’t see too many ads for underground miners at the various construction sites around Christchurch. If you are going to work in the construction sector and earn reasonable money you need a trade.

    Those miners are going to head to Australia.

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  2. wreck1080 (3,533 comments) says:

    It’s hilarious , the greens are asking to save the mining jobs but they want to block mining at the same time .

    Dumb.

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  3. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Because they’ve only got a majority of one! They cant do anything. They cant change the RMA, cant stop the iwi juggernaut, and never even gave us our tax cuts.

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  4. Alan Johnstone (922 comments) says:

    Sad truth is it would be cheaper to pay these people $500,000 a year each to stay at home than it would be to keep the mine open.

    If it’s not economic, then it’s not economic;

    If open cast is cheaper and a profit can be made, then it needs to be done.

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  5. PaulL (5,776 comments) says:

    I don’t get it. Supposedly we don’t like coal mining nor people burning coal. Destroying the planet you see. And yet, when the policies we’ve put in place deliberately to stop coal mining result in coal miners losing their jobs, we’re surprised.

    Are we really collectively that stupid?

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  6. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    The government should be doing more for industry as reported yet again in the helrald today. Put some real money into smart industry. For example the holiday highway is a total waste of money. $9 bil would go a hell of a long way to supporting smart industry with skilled jobs.

    But all governments in NZ are in the pocket of Fletchers and other “infrastructure” companies. We need more infrastructure like we need taniwha exorcisms, or more wasteful health or education “infrastrucuture” spending.

    What we need is industry to pay for the “infrastructure”.

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  7. Manolo (12,644 comments) says:

    Why aren’t we ditching the other carbon by-product, the dreadful tax, the ETS?
    Nick Smith’s concoction is a dangerous hindrance to NZ economy.

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  8. kowtow (6,734 comments) says:

    Are we really collectively that stupid?

    We are ,because we have allowed the so called green movement/environmentalists run the agenda for the past 15-20 years,aided and abetted by a complicit MSM. Their poison has become mainstream and jobs and real wealth are going down the shitter as a result.

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  9. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    but but it’s government owned, guaranteed to make money, only a fool would sell assets at this time….

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  10. Redbaiter (6,483 comments) says:

    “aided and abetted by a complicit MSM”

    That is true, the MSM has acted and continues to act as the propaganda arm of the Green party. Not to mention the indoctrination that occurs through the school system.

    However, none of this could happen without the agreement of the National Party, who have gone along with all of this BS rather than fight against it as they should have.

    National too have been complicit in another part of what is stopping so much industry and investment in NZ, and that is the practice of acknowledging the myths relating to “traditional land owners” and giving so called Maori groups practically the same rights as legally documented landowners.

    So great that National are pointing the finger at the extreme left.

    Pity that as usual, their complaints are so utterly hollow and hypocritical.

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  11. RRM (8,997 comments) says:

    Pike River was an inside job conspiracy theories in 5… 4… 3… 2…

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  12. Francis_X (143 comments) says:

    “I think there is an unnecessary comma in the second to last paragraph!”

    300 hundred people lose their jobs and you indulge in punctuation policing? Bad form.

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  13. emmess (1,334 comments) says:

    Are we really collectively that stupid?

    We?
    Speak for yourself
    Don’t you mean they?

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  14. Morgy (167 comments) says:

    No Francis, what is bad form is the Labour party standing on the steps of parliament this afternoon with the Miners in ‘solidarity’ (read that as photo op) but the answer is in their hands too; assist National in pushing ahead to mine our valuable resources!

    It’s time for National to stop talking about mining and fast track the program, demolish the opposition in it’s way and whenever someone in the MSM start wailing about the poor snail, tell them to fuck off to the West Coast and ask the locals what they think about it.

    Open cast NOW!!! Drill, Frack, Dredge, Tunnell. Just get going!!

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  15. rakuraku (162 comments) says:

    Good time to float Solid Energy at the bottom of the market, I am sure some Chinese Corporation will snap it up for chickenfeed.

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  16. edhunter (435 comments) says:

    Not much point coming to oz for coal mining jobs, they’re also laying off thousands of miners for the same reason Spring Creek is closing, high cost to extract & low global prices. Not that all mines are closing mind just the currently uneconomical ones, but on the plus side & if the wires are to be believed coal prices cant drop any lower than current levels and should rebound slightly in the not too distant future.

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  17. hemihua (28 comments) says:

    I waited with baited breath for the Green’s comment on One News. Nothing.

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  18. David Garrett (5,157 comments) says:

    RRM: clearly not a full moon tonight!! Mind you, the night is young…

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  19. Johnboy (13,439 comments) says:

    Won’t just be the miners that lose their jobs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkBTeQf1ya8&feature=related

    http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=sir+michael+cullen&start=10&hl=en&sa=N&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=yF9hUPT6HMWjiAfUtoGgCw&ved=0CEcQsAQ4Cg&biw=1142&bih=598

    The Sirly Controller should get a bullet for his wise investment on our behalf! :)

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  20. davidp (3,329 comments) says:

    The mines would have closed anyway if the government included Greens in coalition. This has just brought closure forward a few years. Wasn’t West Coast-Tasman the only electorate to swing towards Labour at the last election? If so, the people of the West Coast had it in for the miners.

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  21. Johnboy (13,439 comments) says:

    Time we thought of other uses for our coal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process

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  22. toad (3,654 comments) says:

    @DPF:

    The reality is the global price of coal has plummeted…

    And only a couple of years ago the Nats were touting more coal mines (in National Parks, at that) as the great new economic opportunity for New Zealand.

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  23. Johnboy (13,439 comments) says:

    Is if we make it into gas for my V8 Toadie. :)

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  24. toad (3,654 comments) says:

    @wreck1080 4:25 pm

    The Green policy is that there should be no NEW coal mines. They are not advocating shutting existing ones as they recognise that there are families dependent on them for their livelihoods and unless alternative employment is provided for the parents in those families there will be significant adverse socioeconomic consequences for communities such as the West Coast and North Waikato.

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  25. toad (3,654 comments) says:

    @Johnboy 8:44 pm

    I see you are with Mitt Romney in thinking Hitler had the right idea on coal2gas, Johnboy.

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  26. Johnboy (13,439 comments) says:

    I deeply admire Nelson Mandela’s country for utilising the assets they were given in abundance such as coal and believe he was correct when he said, “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. ”

    After we have achieved that here then we should have no trouble sorting out the environment Toadie. :)

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  27. Komata (975 comments) says:

    Toad:

    Re: ‘The Green policy is that there should be no NEW coal mines’

    As we know, coal is finite, coal mines become worked out. HOWEVER as you are no doubt very aware, NZ is blessed with large quantities of coal – good coal, world class coal. Coal which can be used to provide employment for miners and, by extension, meals and shelter for miners , their families and all the wider community – a fact which would sem to be obvious to those who have a real interest in the people of this country.

    The greens, by your own statement will not of course allow new nines to open – despite all of the above good reasons and good economic sense.

    Two questions for you Toad:

    If a coal mine closed because of depletion and another perfectly good one nearby with several million tonnes of coal was refused a permit to operate ‘because it would harm the environment’ according to green party ‘principles’ and convictions, would YOU (Toad) be prepared to front-up to a miner’s child and tell him that his daddy couldn’t work to bring him food because it might harm the plants /wildlife?

    And having done that, would YOU then be prepared to support that child until he was old enough to look after himself?

    And no, Toad, this is not a ‘smart-alec’ question, (it actually comes under the category of ‘reality’) so I’d appreciate a reasoned, nuanced answer.

    Thanks.

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  28. gump (1,232 comments) says:

    @Francis_X

    DPF was making a joke about the EPMU and Labour being the same organisation (and therefore not needing to be separated by a comma).

    He wasn’t actually correcting the punctuation. It was a joke.

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  29. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    oh groan toady… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

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  30. Shunda barunda (2,964 comments) says:

    The only reason Spring creek has closed is because they are preparing Solid Energy for sale. In the short term the underground miners are a liability, it is as simple as that.

    This exact same situation with coal price has existed before here in Greymouth and Solid Energy didn’t ditch the staff then.

    And ask yourselves this, if it is uneconomic to mine Spring creek, how the hell is it economic to start a brand new open cast mine at exactly the same time?

    We are being lied to, I have my contacts at Spring Creek and I can tell you right now, they can extract coal from the mine far quicker than they can from a new open cast operation.

    This is bullshit, this sort of crap should loose National the next election, but it won’t, because enough people in this country are so well attuned to swallowing bullshit.

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  31. Shunda barunda (2,964 comments) says:

    Coal which can be used to provide employment for miners and, by extension, meals and shelter for miners , their families and all the wider community – a fact which would sem to be obvious to those who have a real interest in the people of this country.

    Nice theory, but I can tell you that after 35 years living on the Coast it doesn’t work out that way.

    Why do you think the population is so low here after 150 years of mining? Why are there half the people living here now as compared to the 1960′s?

    Because mineral extraction is a finicky, boom & bust industry, it offers no meaningful long term security to communities and offers a hell of a lot of heart ache and trauma when it goes wrong.

    There will be more than 300 names on the new memorial unveiled in Greymouth this November, all killed at work mining, enough said.

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  32. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    sorry I’m probably committing the same sin as toady keeping this going but the Goodwins law entry in wikipedia is quite amusing….

    Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an argument made by Mike Godwin in 1990[2] that has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”[2][3] In other words, Godwin observed that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler and the Nazis.

    Godwin’s law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread Reductio ad Hitlerum form. The Reductio ad Hitlerum attempts to refute a view because it has been held by Hitler.[4] …

    Although in one of its early forms Godwin’s law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions,[6] the law is now often applied to any threaded online discussion, such as forums, chat rooms and blog comment threads, and has been invoked for the inappropriate use of Nazi analogies in articles or speeches.[7]

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  33. RRM (8,997 comments) says:

    So the Minister of Economic Development implicitly thinks that whatever reasons Forest & Bird have for objecting, is something frivolous, and hopefully they’ll just change their minds about the whole thing if he emotionally blackmails them about it and basically calls them enemies of the public, live on national TV?

    What an awesome, impressive, effective Minister of Economic Development that is…

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  34. Mark (1,303 comments) says:

    This one is not the fault of the government. As sorry as I feel for the people of the west coast as it is a tough pill to swallow the rapid drop in the global demand for coal has simply made it uneconomic.

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  35. Paulus (2,304 comments) says:

    Labour is running for cover on this – Shearer is trying to have a bob both ways because he does not have a clue what to do, but the Greenpeace Party will in coalition – watch this space !

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  36. Shunda barunda (2,964 comments) says:

    As sorry as I feel for the people of the west coast as it is a tough pill to swallow the rapid drop in the global demand for coal has simply made it uneconomic.

    Oh that dog just aint gonna hunt!!

    If coal is so bloody uneconomic, why the hell are we talking about starting brand new open cast coal mines?.

    The simple fact is this, the Spring creek coal reserves look better on the ledger than the 300 solid energy staff currently employed to work it, and because contractors are used to strip the overburden of open cast mines, there is no liability of staff for prospective investors in solid energy.

    The Government is screwing the West Coast, that’s all there is to it.

    F@ck National and their asset sales.

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