Don Elder's future 'not discussed'

The Solid Energy board of directors has not discussed the chief executive's future.

The future of Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder has not been discussed by the board of directors.

NBR ONLINE posed the question of whether Dr Elder would remain with the company at the telephone media conference yesterday where 460 job losses were announced.

Chairman Mark Ford said the board of directors had not discussed Dr Elder’s future position with the company.

Dr Elder was not at the conference with Mr Ford. He was on the West Coast announcing the bad news to miners there.

But the big question on the lips of staff interviewed by NBR was how the company’s position could have deteriorated so quickly without any remedial action.

It was only in July that Solid Energy paid $7.5 million for the damaged Pike River mine.

The future of the company and partial privatisation depends on a recovery in international coal prices that is anticipated by some analysts as likely next year.

A couple of months ago Dr Elder turned up a rally protesting privatisation in Christchurch.

He was subsequently reported as saying he had offered organisers the benefit of a two-minute talk about the benefits of privatisation. He was disappointed his offer was rejected.

Dr Elder remains one of New Zealand's top-paid executives at around $1.4 million a year, depending on bonuses.

Top executives at Solid Energy are taking a 10% pay cut in light of the company's problems.