New Zealand Coal Mine Boss Acknowledges Problems

July 22, 2011

The boss of a New Zealand coal mine where 29 people died in an explosion last year has acknowledged the mine faced difficulties with finances, personnel and safety.

In testimony this week at a formal inquiry into the methane-fueled disaster, Pike River Coal Chief Executive Peter Whittall said he knew a four-inch pipeline removing methane gas from the mine was “inadequate” from the time it was installed. He said the plan was always to replace the pipe with a larger one.

Whittall said he’d faced “a lot of frustration” with the lack of continuity in having six different mine managers over two years. And he acknowledged the mine faced a cash flow problem after operating over schedule and behind budget.

The inquiry, in the South Island town of Greymouth, continues.

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