New Zealand miner Pike River Coal has delayed the first shipment from its hard coking coal mine on the South Island’s West Coast following a slowdown in production ramp-up due to teething problems, the company said.

The first 60,000t export coal shipment has been postponed by six weeks and is expected to leave for Japan in mid-November 2009, Pike River Coal said.

The company said production has been delayed due to minor, yet time consuming faults in the new heavy cutting equipment and the need for Pike River Coal mining crews to become familiar with the machines.

Pike River Coal has said it has enough funds to honour a convertible bond condition which requires the first steady state production to be achieved by the end of November 2009 and produce 800,000t within one year of that date.

Piker River Coal chief executive Gordon Ward said that to overcome the delay in production ramp-up, the mine plan has been modified to access the first hydro mining extraction panels closer to pit bottom.

”Given the mining experience to date and the need for a reasonable level of work in stone over the next couple of months, it is prudent to apply a more conservative timeframe for completion of the ramp-up which pushes out the first coal shipment date,” Ward said.

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By GlobalData

The company plans to start the first hydro-mining in November 2009, which is expected to increase production to more than one million tonnes a year.