6 Nov 2012

Pike River 'not representative' of industry

7:06 pm on 6 November 2012

Solid Energy says the many failures of the Pike River mine do not represent the rest of the industry.

The state-owned enterprise on Tuesday made its first comments regarding the Royal Commission's report into the disaster in which 29 men died during a series of explosions at the West Coast mine in November 2010.

Don Elder.

Don Elder. Photo: SOLID ENERGY

Solid Energy is the coal industry's dominant player and bought the Pike River mine earlier this year for $7.5 million.

In a statement, chief executive Don Elder says the commission's recommendations are generally consistent with the ones it put forward and it supports them.

Dr Elder says despite Pike River Coal's public claims, it is apparent that the company was never representative of the industry's approach to health and safety.

Underground mining has a future in New Zealand, but putting safety first is not negotiable and the technical and economic challenges remain significant, he says.

The Royal Commission's report released on Monday found that Pike River Coal had not completed the systems and infrastructure necessary to safely produce coal, its health and safety systems were inadequate and workers were exposed to an unacceptable level of risk.

Meanwhile, six prohibition notices have been served on mines by health and safety inspectors from the High Hazards Unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment since the Pike River mining disaster.

A prohibition notice can stop all or part of workplace operations and are served when inspectors believe that there is a likelihood serious harm will occur.

The head of the high hazards unit, Brett Murray, says 17 improvement notices have also been issued since Pike River, primarily for Spring Creek and Huntly East mines owned by Solid Energy.