Pike River Reaches Coal Seam, Reiterates Production Schedule

Pike River Coal Ltd., developer of a mine on New Zealand's South Island, said it will deliver its first 100,000 tons of the steel-making material by March.

The company reached the Brunner coal seam it was targeting after two years digging a 2.3 kilometer (1.5 mile) access tunnel, Wellington-based Pike said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange.

``Everything is now in place to start mining New Zealand's largest-known hard coking coal deposit,'' Chief Executive Officer Gordon Ward said. The project will produce 200,000 tons by June and from then will mine at a rate of about one million tons a year, he said.

Pike River near Greymouth is part-owned by India's Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd. (GNC) and Saurashtra Fuels Pvt. who have also contracted to take part of its low-ash, low-phosphorus production. New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd. (NZO) is the major shareholder with a 30 percent holding.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gavin Evans in Wellington at gavinevans@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Iain Wilson at iwilson2@bloomberg.net

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