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Union backs sale of Solid Energy assets

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/10/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">The union E tu has welcomed the sale of Solid Energy's assets, describing it as positive news for jobs and for local mining communities.</span> © Getty The union E tu has welcomed the sale of Solid Energy's assets, describing it as positive news for jobs and for local mining communities. Collapsed state miner Solid Energy's sale of most of its assets has been welcomed by the E tu union.

Union director of industries Ged O'Connell says it's positive news for jobs and as good an outcome as could be expected.

A joint venture between Wellington-based Bathurst Resources and Motueka-headquartered food producer Talley's Group has agreed to buy the Stockton mine on the West Coast, and Rotowaro and Maramarua mines in Waikato.

Solid Energy has also signed deals with privately owned South Island group Greenbriar for the New Vale and Ohai coal mines in Southland, and with West Coast miner Birchfield for the Strongman and Liverpool mines on the West Coast.

Mr O'Connell says that, subject to regulatory approval, the mines appear to have been salvaged and the assets will be in the hands of New Zealand-owned operators.

"It means jobs for our members and some pay-back for creditors, so that's good", he says.

"It will also mean income flowing through local communities, so it's positive news all round".

Mr O'Connell said the union was confident the three operators buying the mines were well-established businesses and knew the industry.

Solid Energy has been looking to sell assets since it was placed into voluntary administration last year, owing 1500 creditors $320 million.

New chief executive Tony King said there had been a focus on keeping jobs during the bidding process by selling them as ongoing concerns.

"Our expectation is that a good majority of staff will be employed by the new owners," he said.

The company's administrators, KordaMentha, said creditors could expect to get back between 45 and 55 cents on the dollar.

The sales are expected to be settled in the first half of 2017.

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