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Pike due to hit coal this month

Monday 4th August 2008

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Pike River Coal, the coal miner whose stock has more than doubled in the past year, said its tunnel has cleared the Hawera Fault and should reach the coal seam by the end of the month.

Work on the 2.3km tunnel slowed to about one metre a day through the fault, leaving 182 metres to go, the company said in a statement. Pike River plans to extract at least 17.6 million tonnes over the next 18 years.

The coal miner last month delayed tunneling by two weeks to swap tunneling machines and prepare processing zones before the fault was penetrated.

"The most difficult mining challenge is over and tunnel advance rates are expected to improve significantly," general manager of mines Peter Whittall said. "The good news was virtually no water and little gas has been encountered to date."

In June, the coal miner said it had settled the sales price of its premium hard coking coal with two Japanese steel mills and its Indian shareholders at a record US$300 per tonne for deliveries in the year ended 31 March, 2009.

Shares of Pike River rose 2% to $2.03 today

By Jonathan Underhill

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