8 Dec 2011

Pike receiver hopes US payout won't deter buyers

5:18 am on 8 December 2011

The receiver for Pike River Coal hopes a record payout following a similar disaster in the United States is not going to put off potential purchasers from buying the West Coast mine.

American miner Alpha Natural Resources has been ordered to pay $US200 million in damages and penalties over a mining tragedy in West Virginia in which an explosion killed 29 men last year.

The payout, on behalf of the mine operator Massey Energy, will go towards compensating victims' families, paying fines and upgrading safety features. It is the biggest mining disaster in the US to date.

The receiver for Pike River, John Fisk, says the settlement should not put buyers off because the circumstances at the West Coast mine are very different.

Twenty-nine men died in explosions that began at the mine on 19 November last year.

Mr Fisk says for one, the new owner of Pike River Coal will take on just the assets, not the liabilities as was the case in the US.

The Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union says the West Virginia settlement shows a higher level of accountability in the US.

Assistant national secretary Ged O'Connell says that lack of accountability in New Zealand may, in fact, encourage people to buy Pike River Coal.