The Pike River Mine is a coal mine operated by Pike River Coal Ltd 46 km north-northeast of Greymouth in the West Coast Region of New Zealand's South Island.
It was to begin production in early 2008, and was initially expected to produce around one million tonnes of coal per year for around 20 years, making the mine the second-largest coal export mine in the country, as well as the largest underground coal mine of the country. The estimate for production was reduced to between 320,000 and 360,000 tonnes for 2011. The coal of the mine is described as "New Zealand's largest known deposit of high fluidity and quality hard coking coal" (a type of coal in high demand for iron smelting), and is expected to earn around NZ$170 million in export income annually.
Various setbacks occurred during late 2007 and early 2008 delaying the start of coal production. While mine operators were originally confident that production would still start in 2008 (having reached within 400 m of the coal seam in early 2008), in mid 2009 the mine was still not producing at expected levels, with the target of the first 60,000 tons of coal to be shipped having slipped to early 2010. The mine operators noted that technical difficulties with several mining machines were to blame for the delays, which also forced the company to ask for an extension from its financiers.
An explosion on Friday 19 November 2010 trapped 29 workers inside the mine. Rescuers delayed entering the mine, due to the risk of another explosion. On 24 November, a second explosion occurred and it was subsequently presumed that the workers could not have survived. A third explosion occurred at 3:39 pm 26 November; it appeared to be smaller than the first two.
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