The Dim-Post

September 25, 2012

The past is another country

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 8:34 am

Via Stuff:

Christchurch-based Solid Energy has proposed even deeper staff cuts – including half its backroom work force and half its executive leadership – as it tries to weather the plummeting price of coal.

Yesterday the state-owned miner’s new chairman, Mark Ford, announced another round of staff consultation after confirming the company proposed mothballing Spring Creek mine near Greymouth, halting further development of Huntly East mine, and cutting corporate staff.

The company said it needed to axe a quarter of its work force, or about 440 people, because of a severe downturn in global coal prices which would shave $200 million in revenue in the coming financial year.

That does not not include 130 contractors at Spring Creek who would also be out of work.

Depressing? Cheer yourself up with this 2010 press release from Gerry Brownlee and Kate Wilkinson in which they argued that the only future for the New Zealand economy was to dig up our national parks for the fabulously valuable coal they had beneath them.


  1. Actually, the only mention of coal in the press release is to specifically exclude it as the star attraction for increased mining.

    “”Our mineral resources – even excluding coal and other hydrocarbon-based minerals – are estimated to be worth approximately $194 billion,” Mr Brownlee said.”


    Comment by JC — September 25, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  2. The truth is a different dimension

    Comment by King Kong — September 25, 2012 @ 9:08 am

  3. “…Actually, the only mention of coal in the press release is to specifically exclude it as the star attraction for increased mining…”

    You didn’t sign John Bank’s expenses return by any chance did you?

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 25, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  4. The 2010 release refers to primarily rare earth minerals (the high value minerals rather than coal).

    One could argue that if this policy had gone ahead then there would have been jobs for the coal miners to transfer to. But, as we know, mining is bad and therefore job losses in this sector is good, no?

    Comment by Loonybonkersmad — September 25, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  5. The 2010 release refers to primarily rare earth minerals (the high value minerals rather than coal).
    I remember Brownlee’s good ol’ boy “Hur hur hur” chortle when asked on TV just what those “rare earths” were.

    Comment by Joe W — September 25, 2012 @ 9:20 am

  6. Your post is untrue. You appear to be getting too close to politicians, their M.O. is rubbing off on you.

    Comment by gn35 — September 25, 2012 @ 9:23 am

  7. The results from each school are unmoderated and therefore suspect, aren’t they? So all this data is of little use. I taught a year 8 for a while last year in a private school. We were doing the Cambridge programme so didn’t need to follow the national standards (incredible, eh?). I had a quick look at the National Standards and deemed half a dozen kids ( out of two classes totalling 40) to be below the standard for writing … and probably reading. Two of them had hard to diagnose learning difficulties. They might get there in the end but they will take a while to catch up with their peers. And yet a number of schools have no one below the standard or fewer than I would expect – even in a high decile school. At least in NCEA there is moderation and external results to check the internals against. Moderation of primary schools would be very costly. It would be better to go back to our curriculum where we could if we wanted to report each child as reaching the expected level or not. I used to do that for years 9 and 10: at the level, above the level or below the level.

    Comment by M0 — September 25, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  8. Oh dear – got my mines mixed up with my schools

    Comment by M0 — September 25, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  9. Just as well the last Labour Government let Solid Energy mine the protected Happy Valley plateau for coal, despite years of concerted opposition from the environmental movement, and the risk of threatening a critically endangered species. We would have run out of exportable coal otherwise.

    Comment by George D — September 25, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  10. This post is simply a lie. Have you considered merging with The Standard?

    Comment by R — September 25, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  11. @R: “This post is simply a lie. …”

    Really? Check out this story on Stuff from the time of the Government’s original proposals to mine on Schedule 4 conservation lands:

    “The Government is also planning to spend $4 million over the next nine months to gather information on “highly prospective” Schedule 4 land in the Coromandel and Paparoa areas as well as Rakiura National Park in Stewart Island. Non-Schedule 4 land in Northland would also be investigated for mining potential.

    Documents issued with the Government’s discussion paper say … [t]he Inangahua sector of Paparoa National Park was believed to have $1 billion to $2 billion worth of coal.”

    So weren’t Brownlee/Wilkinson proposing back in 2010 to allow coal mining in the Paparoa National Park? Which makes this post pretty accurate (albeit overstated for the usual satirical comic effect)?

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 25, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  12. Have you considered merging with The Standard?

    Dear Danyl, stop criticising the Government, okay? You’re hurting their feelings.

    Comment by George D — September 25, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  13. Loonybonkersmad @4 “One could argue that if this policy had gone ahead then there would have been jobs for the coal miners to transfer to. But, as we know, mining is bad and therefore job losses in this sector is good, no?”

    That comment was so good, it’s worth repeating! All liberals know “Mining’s bad, m’kay.” It’s an environmentalist’s dream that coal becomes uneconomic to mine. Sure, the income tax alone (WFF excepted/ACC incl) paid by those miners and contractors is probably worth (440+130) * $50,000 @ 16% = $4,560,000. With that shortfall in income tax, that’s approx. 4,560,000/$70,000 = 65 state sector employees’ jobs at risk. My numbers may be wrong, who knows what a miner earns outside of Australia?

    Of course, these guys and girls may get jobs if we start fracking for cheap gas!
    We can leave all that dirty coal in the ground until we are REALLY desperate.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — September 25, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  14. Awwww.

    I clicked into this site expecting a beautiful piece where the Greens and Labour join hands with Capitalist Oppressor Key in crushing the hopes and dreams of working coal miners and their families so that Gaia might live.

    Oh well. Like those writers at SNL a couple of years ago who complained that it was difficult to create skits about Obama because there was so little to mock, perhaps Danyl has simply reached the point where Juvenal’s maxim no longer applies.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — September 25, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  15. Just going by the stuff you produce, Tommo, where very far from that point.

    Comment by Judge Holden — September 25, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  16. We’re where sweetie?

    Comment by Tom Hunter — September 25, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  17. Looks like Gerry and Kate have been outvoted. The National War Memorial Park (Pukeahu) Empowering Bill passed its second reading in Parliament today, 105 – 15

    Comment by Dan — September 25, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  18. Just think of the new jobs that will be created when someone in the NZ movie industry dreams up an antipodean version of Billy Elliot.

    Comment by billbennettnz — September 26, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  19. Don’t know about antipodean version but came up with a new Kiwi musical version of Billy Elliot featuring myself as Billy, the father character, the brother character, and the Julie Walters character. It was kind of a recent idea, and kind of nazi-inspired in its music numbers.

    Comment by Dan — September 26, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  20. Fairfax’s “Chalkie” gives John Clarke look-a-like Don Elder and Solid Energy a good once over here

    “Chalkie” in particular says international coal prices are not to blame for SE’s troubles. The so called “price drop off a cliff” Elder blames is a fiction. The recent declining trend in Aus coal price has been fairly consistent since mid 2011. It’s the market adjusting to normal supply levels after half the Queensland mines ceased production because of the Jan 2011 floods in Queensland. The record high coking coal price of $USD 330 a tonne in March April 2011 was simply a spike in response to temporary break in supply from the flooded Aussie mines.

    More than price its poor choice of project. Spring Creek especially. And it needed a $40million ventilation system post-Pike River. And that the lignite conversion projects are just fanciful latter-day Think Big projects. Elder and the board should be very lucky to keep their jobs. And anyway, why is a small commodity extracting outfit even paying its CEO $1.4million?

    Comment by Mr February — September 26, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

  21. Elementary, my dear friend. Why is ACC paying special doctors $500,000 – $1,000,000 per annum?

    Comment by Dan — September 27, 2012 @ 2:42 am

  22. Mark Ford? Is that the same Mark Ford that munged Auckland councils into Auckland Council and now runs a couple of the CCO’s? If so, isn’t he spreading himself a bit thin?

    Comment by Rinso — September 27, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  23. Hopefully Mark Ford isn’t spread too thinly to “munge” Solid Energy!

    Comment by Mr February — September 30, 2012 @ 7:37 am

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