Two British coalminers who feared deportation after Solid Energy made them redundant from the Spring Creek Mine have been granted a reprieve by Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson.
Jason Brown and Mark Pointon, who arrived in Greymouth 20 months ago to work at the Dunollie mine, were restrained by their visas from working for any other company or earning less than $55,000 a year. They were three months away from qualifying for residency when they were formally laid off last week.
Ms Wilkinson's office has informed him that the miners' visas will be extended and they will be allowed to work anywhere in the country provided they find a job within six months.
Solid Energy communications general manager Vicki Blyth said the company raised 14 cases with the minister's office, six of whom had already secured residency at the time.
Of the remaining eight who were granted the open visas, four were from Spring Creek and four were in other parts of the country, including Christchurch and Huntly.
"We're pleased we've been able to get this result and that the Minister and Department of Immigration have been very responsive,'' Mrs Blyth said.
"We hope they are able to secure alternative employment, if they want.''
Solid Energy used to recruit ex-miners from the UK.By Christine Linnell of the Greymouth Star