Spring Creek march not 'witch hunt'

By APNZ staff, Greymouth Star

The entrance to the Spring Creek Mine. Photo / David White
The entrance to the Spring Creek Mine. Photo / David White

West Coast miners will march through Greymouth today in a fight to keep the Spring Creek mine open.

Organisers hope 500 people will join the march, in what could be the biggest protest on the West Coast since the end of native logging.

Solid Energy has suspended operations at the mine, which employs up to 260 people and 130 contractors in a town of 10,100.

Last week Solid Energy announced it had made an after-tax loss of $40.2 million.

Its chief executive Don Elder attributed a steep drop in coal prices for the loss.

Today's march is backed by the miners' union, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor and Pike River Mine families spokesman Bernie Monk.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union West Coast organiser Garth Elliot said the rally would show the strong community support for keeping Spring Creek open.

"Our community has been absolutely battered in recent years, first with the Pike River tragedy and now this. We're marching together to say to Solid Energy and to the Government that they can't just abandon Greymouth.

"Coal prices go up and down, but mining communities have to go on. We're asking Solid Energy and the Government to take a real look at the damage that the closure of Spring Creek would do to the town and its people.''

Mr Kokshoorn said the march was not a "witch hunt'', but the community showing it was worried.

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