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Pike River Coal found guilty of 9 health and safety charges

Thursday 18th April 2013

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Pike River Coal, the failed operator of the West Coast coal mine where two explosions killed 29 underground miners in 2010, has been convicted of nine health and safety charges.

In the Greymouth District Court, Judge Jane Farish found the company, which is in receivership, guilty of the charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, receivers John Fisk, David Bridgman and Malcolm Hollis of PwC said in a statement. The receivers told the court last year that they wouldn't be seek to defend the charges.

"Given the amounts owing to creditors, the receivers did not consider it in the economic interest of creditors to spend the limited funds available to the company on any defences to the charges," Fisk said. "The receivers do not intend to take any position in relation to what may be an appropriate sentence. This is a matter for the court."

A sentencing hearing has been set for July 4 and 5, and the receivers will provide the court and prosecution with information about the company's financial position to assist, they said.

The mine was sold to state-owned Solid Energy, which is itself in a precarious financial position, for $7.5 million, with earn-outs up to $25 million if it's commercially re-opened.

According to the receivers' latest report published in February, Pike River Coal's remaining asset was an insurance claim relating to events before the November 2010 explosions.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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