Protestors demonstrating against the threatened closure of Spring Creek Mine have filled the streets of Greymouth this afternoon.
More than a 1000 miners and supporters braved the wet conditions to protest against possible job cuts at Spring Creek Mine after operations at the mine were suspended last Wednesday.
The protestors waved placards and chanted "save our jobs" and "save our towns" in what is believed to be the biggest protest the West Coast town has seen in the last decade.
"Save our jobs, at the end of the day save our town," said miner John Facer, one of 400 miners whose job is in limbo.
"Keep everyone together because once these miners leave - that's the basis of New Zealand mining and it will be gone forever."
Grey district mayor Tony Kokshoorn said he had spoken to Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder yesterday to discuss the future of the mine.
One option proposed is a "care and maintenance" service which would mean 30 jobs could be saved and the mine will stay open.
"There is not much likelihood he (Elder) said of the mine being closed," said Kokshoorn.
EPMU West Coast organiser Garth Elliott said today's march sent a clear message to the Government that it needs to help save Spring Creek.
"The support from the community today has been humbling, and it shows this campaign is about more than jobs, it's about the future of our town," said Elliot.
"This community has built and sustained New Zealand's mining industry, and it deserves a bit more loyalty than to be dumped on the scrapheap the moment Solid Energy finds itself in a bit of difficulty."
Labour MP Damien O'Connor has accused the Government of playing with the lives of miners, their families and the community all so it can get a better deal when it sells part of Solid Energy.
"While the miners understand the need for some change, that change must be about driving efficiency and sustainability within the company, not about maximising value for a sell down and share float," said O'Connor.
"Coasters know it is first and foremost about National's asset sales programme, a programme that right now, with a flat share market, is an outrageous proposition."
A Spring Creek spokesperson said the company were not surprised by the turnout at today's protest given the uncertainty surrounding the future of the mine.
They would not confirm when miners would be informed about the future of their jobs.
Last Friday, Solid Energy announced it had made an after-tax loss of $40.2 million.
Solid Energy management have attributed a steep drop in coal prices for the loss.
No coal has been brought out of the Spring Creek mine since January this year because it has been in a redevelopment phase and they were not due to start extracting coal again until 2013.