Safety the key in Pike body recovery: PwC

PIKE River Coal receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers said it could not make the recovery of the 29 miners who died in the tragedy in November last year a condition of sale of the mine because of safety concerns for any retrieval operation.
Safety the key in Pike body recovery: PwC Safety the key in Pike body recovery: PwC Safety the key in Pike body recovery: PwC Safety the key in Pike body recovery: PwC Safety the key in Pike body recovery: PwC

Snap courtesy of Pike River Coal, a few months before the mine disaster.

Lou Caruana

Responding to growing demands by unions and members of the family of the lost miners, PwC said it was not sure whether it was even possible to find the bodies.

“Safety is paramount,” PwC said in a statement. “For safety reasons the receivers cannot impose a requirement on purchasers to recover the bodies.

“In addition, the receivers and their mine experts do not have all information at this stage to confirm if any recovery is actually feasible.

“We understand the Crown endorses the receivers’ view that safety is paramount.”

PwC said it had advised potential bidders for the mine that it was keen to ensure that access and recovery of the bodies of the 29 deceased miners was not impeded by a sale.

It said all potential purchasers had acknowledged this in the indicative bids that had been received.

“This undertaking and the response of bidders to it will be an important factor the receivers will take into account in evaluating and responding to expressions of interest and final bids,” PwC said.

PwC’s Malcolm Hollis added: "The receivers agree that nobody wants a sale of the mine to impede the potential recovery of the miners’ bodies.

“Equally however, we are confident that the paramount importance of mine stabilisation and the safety of potential recovery operations is recognised and that we must all take this process one step at a time."

The receivers anticipate that potential purchasers would share the objective of re-establishing the mine as a successful business and a significant employer in the West Coast region, PwC said.

“As part of this we expect potential purchasers will, on a best endeavours basis, both be required (under the sale and purchase agreement) and wish to take all steps reasonably possible to recover the bodies. It is expected this will be communicated to New Zealand Petroleum-Minerals when an application to assign the mining permit is made by a purchaser of the mine,” it said.