Pike River: Families deny legal action; Solid Energy confirms bid

Solid Energy has confirmed it is one of the bidders for the embattled Pike River Coal mine on the west coast of New Zealand where 29 men lost their lives in November.

In a statement released by the company confirming their expected official bid for the coal mine, the state-owned miner has declared any buyer should “address the situation of the unsecured West Coast creditors.”

"The worst that could happen for the families and the West Coast is that a speculator acquires the assets and banks them in their resource portfolio," said chief operating officer, Barry Bragg, in a statement confirming the company’s interest in buying the assets of the mine, which is in receivership.

"Solid Energy remains committed to recovering the bodies of the 29 miners, if possible, and to address the situation of the unsecured West Coast creditors.

"We expect that any company seeking to acquire the assets should be held to the same expectations."

Solid Energy had made its interest in the mine known when receivers announced its sale last month, saying it was the only company without enough west coast mining experience to make Pike River financially viable again and recover the bodies of victims.

Making the mine successful again would take many years and large amounts of capital.

If it is the successful bidder, the company will be unable to make further comments in the media, as receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers have revealed the few who will be considered will sign a confidentiality agreement.

Official bids for the mine are due today with the successful bidder expected to be known by August.
Solid Energy indicated it could take years for Pike River resource was exploited and says it is unlikely much of the current underground mine would be used.

Solid Energy has indicated it hopes to make a low-ball offer, based on the prospects of the resource rather than the investment to date.

"We are cautious about the prospect as we don’t believe the resource and its quality are characterised, or the geology understood, to anywhere near the level required in these types of challenging conditions, even in the areas that have been mined," Bragg said.

"We also have doubts about how much of the existing infrastructure will be useable.

"However, we are keen to work with the receivers of Pike River Coal to see if an acceptable proposal can be put together."

Families deny legal action

In other Pike River news, the families of the men killed in the mine have denied reports that legal action is being taken to prevent mine work occurring before the bodies are recovered.

Lawyer for the families Nic Davidson QC said the decision has not been made on whether to start proceedings.

Davidson told the Greymouth Star that family members would be informed before the media or public, if the decision is made to begin proceedings.

Spokesman for the families, Bernie Monk, told NZPA legal action was only one of the avenues the families were looking at.


To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.