The Prime Minister’s hoping a solution can be found to keep Spring Creek Mine open and retain important jobs.
Solid Energy plans to suspend operations at the mine on the West Coast and to cut up to 120 jobs at Huntly East Mine due to the global economic conditions.
John Key understands the company is considering all its options and no final decisions have been made.
He says it’s possible the mine may reopen.
"It's a very significant resource. It employs a lot of people. They're a hard work force to maintain because there's huge demand out of Australia for those workers and they're important to the West Coast."
But Mr Key adds Solid Energy obviously has the right to make its own decisions.
Uncertainty surrounds the futures of miners at Solid Energy's Huntly operation, following news 123 jobs are going.
Waikato District Council member Graeme Tait says the loss of jobs will be devastating.
"More for the younger families, they're the ones that I worry about because some of them are getting started in life, you think you've got a good job and you can buy a house, a couple of kids. Next thing you know you're on the street."
Mr Tait says it will be difficult for those made redundant to find new mining jobs.
Shock and disappointment are the prevailing feelings on the West Coast today in the wake of the surprise announcement.
Solid Energy says as a result of plummeting international coal prices, it will turn away from underground mining to focus on lower-cost opencast mining.
Minerals West Coast manager Peter O'Sullivan says it's come as a surprise to everyone.
"I don't think anyone really expected the coal prices to plummet as quickly as they did and to the extent that they did. Spring Creek itself would appear to have been a reasonable sort of challenge and good on Solid Energy for taking it on, but we can only hope that they're able to complete the challenge."
Site Convener at Spring Creek Trevor Balderson says it's a drastic move.
"I think it's a bit of a dangerous game they're playing with the livelihood of the men who served by loyal all these years and that side of things could have been handled a hell of a lot better than what it has been."
Mr Balderson says they'll work closely with the company over the review stage and have confidence they can prove the mine's worth.
A West Coast politician says Solid Energy has a lot to answer for after its surprise announcement that work will stop at its Spring Creek Mine, near Greymouth.
Damien O'Connor says it's not good enough.
"Coal prices have come back but they are still over a long run reasonable at over $200 a tonne. The question is why shouldn't the company have seen this and been planning for it, rather than the drastic decision they've made?"
There's belief a South Island mine which has had its activity suspended has always been a difficult mine.
Straterra is an industry group representing the resource sector.
CEO Chris Baker says Spring Creek is a mine Solid Energy has invested a lot of money into, but it's a challenge.
"It's certainly a harder mining proposition than if you make the direct comparison to Australian coal mines, including underground coal mines. Geology has tended to be kinder in Australia than it is in New Zealand."
Photo: NZ Herald