It has been two long hard years, but a team of hard rock tunnellers on the west coast are celebrating after finally striking coal. The Pike River www.pike.co.nz mine north of Greymouth is hidden deep in the mountains and the coal there is worth millions. "After eight years of planning and now three years of construction and two years of tunelling and now we've hit coal," says Peter Whittall of Pike River Coal. For just over two years a team of tunnelling experts have been drilling into the mountains where their target, millions of tonnes of coal, is located 2.3 kilometres in. "This is a great thing thats going to be beneficial for the West Coast region," says Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn. There have been plenty of delays and doubters and so far the project has cost around $240 million, but it was all celebration on Friday. Coking coal used in steel mills is currently fetching record prices of around $400 a tonne. Pike River will start producing and stockpiling coal soon, before exporting it next year. It has been an expensive project but Pike River is now hoping to reap the rewards through mining a million tonnes of coal a year for at least 18 years.
Pike River, mcconnell dowell, greymouth, mining, coal, new zealand, underground, westcoast, mcbrideuncut