19 Apr 2013

No decision yet on police charges over Pike River

3:16 pm on 19 April 2013

Police have still to make a decision on whether to lay charges over the Pike River mine disaster.

Twenty-nine men died following a series of explosions that began on 19 November 2010 at the West Coast mine.

On Thursday Pike River Coal Ltd, which owned the mine at the time of the fatal explosions, was found guilty at the Greymouth District Court on all nine charges laid by the former Department of Labour.

A police spokesperson says they are still investigating the tragedy and have not made any decisions on charges.

Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of $250,000.

Pike River Coal will be sentenced in Greymouth on 4 and 5 July, and families will be invited to make victim impact statements.

A spokesperson for some of them, Bernie Monk, says it is not only the deaths that have affected families, but two-and-a-half years of inquiries, investigations and court hearings.

He says those proceedings have revealed the shortcomings and incompetence that dogged the mine, and make it clear changes are urgently needed.

Meanwhile, Mr Monk says managers from the present mine owner Solid Energy are compiling a plan for re-entering the mine's main tunnel, or drift.

The plan will then be presented to the Solid Energy board and, if approved, will be given to the Government.