Huntly East mine
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The Huntly East mine is an underground coal mine located near is just north of Huntly township, approximately 100 km south of Auckland. The mine is owned and operated by Solid Energy.
The mine, first commissioned in 1978, produces sub-bituminous coal which Solid Energy describes as being low ash and low sulfur content. The mine’s entry and surface facilities are on the east side of the Waikato River but all current mine development and mining is on the western side of the river. Access to the mine operations is via an underground road 150 m beneath the Waikato River. Solid Energy stated in a 2008 brochure on the mine that approximately 1 million tonnes of recoverable coal were available for extraction in the licensed area and that there were a further 7 million tonnes of accessible coal in nearby areas.
Solid Energy states on its website that 95% of coal from the mine is sold and sent by rail to New Zealand Steel's nearby Glenbrook steel mill. The remainder of the mine's production is used by lime manufacturers, meatworks, timber processing companies and other light industrial and horticultural suppliers throughout the North Island.
In 2011 Solid Energy began the construction of a $30 million, 270 m deep ventilation shaft to allow the northern expansion of the mine to the west of the Waikato River. The company stated that with the existing infrastructure – including ventilation fans – on the eastern side of the river, it was necessary to install ventilation on the western side. The infrastructure upgrade, the company stated, would achieve productivity and efficiency increases needed to mine at increasing depth and would extend Huntly East Mine’s life by 15 years.
The next year, however, there was a dramatic slump in Solid Energy’s fortunes, and in August 2012 Huntly East Miners were told that there would be 63 redundancies at the mine and about 60 contractors at the mine would also lose work. The $30 million upgrade of the ventilation system would be suspended. On 4 October mining was interrupted for 24 hours so that approximately 105 staff members could be informed in privacy whether or not they had been made redundant.
Owner: Solid Energy
Location: slightly east of the township of Huntly
Production capacity: 400,000 tonnes per annum
Type of coal: sub-bituminous
Employees: 150 staff
Main markets: 95% is supplied to New Zealand Steel's nearby Glenbrook steel mill.
Articles and Resources
- Ministry of Economic Development, "Operating coal mines", Ministry of Economic Development website, accessed March 2012.
- Solid Energy, "Huntly East Mine", Solid Energy, February 2008. (Pdf).
- Solid Energy, "Huntly East Underground mine", Solid Energy website, accessed March 2012.
- Solid Energy, "2011 Annual Report", Solid Energy, pages 24-25.
- The Press, "Solid Energy axes hundreds of jobs", accessed October 2012
- NZ Herald, "Anxious wait for 105 Solid Energy staff", accessed October 2012