State-owned Solid Energy has recorded a loss of $6.5 million in the six months to December 31, which it attributes to a drop in hard coking coal prices and the global economic downturn.

The loss compares to a $78.4 million profit in the same time last year.

The coal miner will pay a dividend of $30 million to the Government at the end of March.

The company said that about $70 million of its decline in earnings was due to the global economy and coal prices and the balance was the cost of five weeks of industrial action at the company's main coal mining sites in late 2009.

Revenue for the half year was $257 million, down from $516 million last year.

Coal sales were down 20 per cent to 1.68 million tonnes from 2.11 million tonnes last year, mainly due to the industrial action.

Export coal sales were down to 670,000 tonnes from 980,000 tonnes last year.

- NZPA