Pike River Payout | The Jackal

13 Sep 2011

Pike River Payout

On the 9th the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River Mine heard from a trainer for mines rescue, Glen Stiles, who said that the equipment in the fresh air base contained nothing of use for somebody trying to escape.

Today we learn that the Police believe men could have survived the initial blast, and were waiting to be rescued around that air pocket.

But if all that wasn't bad enough, the New Zealand Herald reported today that Pike River Coal's receivers will get a big payout: 
The proposed settlement means the Pike River company's biggest shareholder, New Zealand Oil & Gas, will get about $38.3 million as a secured creditor and $3 million as an unsecured creditor. It had rights to more of the insurance payout but has agreed to a receiver's plan to pay $10.5 million to unsecured creditors.

NZOG's remaining debt would be reduced to $14.7 million secured and $12.1 million unsecured. Yesterday NZOG shares closed up 3c to 71c.

Secured creditor BNZ will receive $23.2m in full settlement and the owners of leased mine equipment, $6.3 million.

Under the early payment plan unsecured creditors will receive a part payment of the first $10,000 of their claim - or their full claim if it is less than $10,000 - and up to 20c in the dollar for any balance above that amount, up to a capped amount of $10.5 million.
All this despite Pike River Coal saying it was completely broke and couldn't even afford to have representation at the Royal Commission of Inquiry. In my opinion, the bank accounts of those investing in the dangerous mine are insignificant in comparison to facilitating the ability of the Royal Commission to undertake a proper and full inquiry into the disaster.

On the 5 April The Press reported:
Pike River Coal does not have the money to participate in the Royal Commission of Inquiry, the company's lawyer says. 

Stacey Shortall, lawyer for Pike River Coal in receivership, told the preliminary hearing in Greymouth the firm did not have financial resources to prepare legal documents or information for the inquiry.
Talk about rub salt into the wound... And where is the minister in charge on all this? Gerry Browlee's silence speaks volumes. Pike River Coal and its insurers have a moral obligation here. They are failing that obligation just like they failed to ensure safety at the mine. But what makes it all the more repugnant is what New Zealand Oil and Gas chief executive David Salisbury went on to say:
"Hopefully all of Pike River's creditors can receive full payment when the sale of the mine occurs. However, for the mine workers, contractors and suppliers this has been a very stressful time, emotionally and financially. We therefore support the receivers using some of the insurance payout to make a voluntary early payment now to all unsecured creditors."
PRC CEO Gordon Ward and Gerry Brownlee

If Salisbury gave a damn about the families of those killed at Pike River, he would make some of that insurance money available to them. He would also ensure that PRC facilitated the Royal Commission of Inquiry process, instead of the conceited take the money and run scenario we're currently seeing.