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Pike River share halt could be lifted soon - analyst

Published: 10:08AM Monday November 29, 2010 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

Pike River Coal has provided an update to the stock exchange today and an analyst suggests its trading halt could be lifted soon.

The company's shares were put on a trading halt by the New Zealand and Australian exchanges after the first explosion at the mine near Greymouth on November 19.

In a notice from the NZX at the time, it said it would remain in a halt until the company could "provide the market with a detailed update".

Craigs Investment Partners' Jennie Moreton told TVNZ today the situation is becoming clearer, particularly as insurance and funding details have emerged.

"We are now beginning to feel that the market is now fully informed about what is going on at the mine and the potential impact.

"We wouldn't be surprised to see the shares come off the trading halt very soon," she said.

In the update, Pike River Coal's Chairman John Dow reiterated the company's intention to cooperate with inquiries into the disaster and said it will also be running its own internal inquiry.

The statement also confirmed the mine has insurance cover of $100 million for material damage and business interruption.

However, stand-down periods do apply and the claim process will be protracted.

"We have started the complicated process of preparing a claim which will be lodged soon ... This will require a damage assessment which we are not able to do until we can get back underground," said Dow.

As for Pike River's future, it said no assessment of the damage to the mine can be made until the recovery operation is completed.

A full assessment of the commercial feasibility of resuming operations will then be made, but Dow was already looking to the future.

"Once we can get back underground, Pike will be an advanced development project, given that all surface infrastructure remains intact, including surface facilities, pipelines, the coal preparation plant, roading and rail load-out facilities at Ikamatua," Dow said.

The company re-asserted that recovering the bodies of the 29 miners remains the first priority.