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$30m Huntly coal ventilation shaft work to start

Tuesday 12th April 2011

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Solid Energy has awarded a contract to engineering and construction company McConnell Dowell Constructors to excavate and build a new $30 million ventilation shaft for the northern sector of the Huntly East Underground Mine in the Waikato.

Solid Energy general manager of underground operations Craig Smith said the ventilation shaft was the single largest capital item in the five-year project, announced in 2009 to develop and extend East Mine.

The mine extension would access coal reserves for supply to New Zealand Steel, increasing the Huntly East Mine's current life by 15 years and the workforce from 160 to around 230 people.

The proposed 270m deep shaft was needed to ventilate the expanded mine.

All surface infrastructure, including ventilation fans, was on the eastern side of the Waikato River while the mine's workings were progressing northwards on the western side of the river, Solid Energy said.

Construction of the ventilation shaft was the most significant phase of the development. Subsequent phases would include installing two fans and associated foundations, installing pipework and electrical cables the length of the shaft and constructing a landscaped earth bund around the site. An access road to the site was completed as the first stage of the development.

Excavation and construction of the concrete-lined 4.3m-diameter shaft, including the intersection and connection with Huntly East Mine's underground workings, was expected to take about 18 months.



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