The company was sentenced in the Greymouth District Court on July 4 over health and safety failings that led to the deaths of 29 miners in November 2010. Judge Jane Farish ordered Pike River Coal to pay a total of $3.41 million in reparation—$110,000 for the family of each victim and survivors Russell Smith and Daniel Rockhouse. She also fined the company a total of $760,000 over nine charges.
Pike River Coal is in receivership and indicated during sentencing that it had only enough money to pay $5,000 to each family. But Judge Farish slammed the claim, and said the company had a “total lack of remorse.” Farish indicated that Pike’s biggest secured shareholder, NZ Oil and Gas (24.9%), was in a position to pay reparation. Last August, NZ Oil and Gas posted a full-year profit of $19.9 million.
Pike River receiver John Fisk said it was impossible for the firm to comply with Farish’s order. It had $2 million worth of liability insurance, but after legal fees were paid, just $156,000—or about $5,380 per family—was still available for compensation payments, he said.