Miners fear 'stifling over-regulation' after commission's report

The coal mining industry fears it will be stifled in the wake of the Pike River Royal Commission report.

The report, released this afternoon, says the disaster which claimed the lives of 29 men was preventable and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has resigned her portfolio.

Coal Association of New Zealand chairman Chris Baker, who is also ceo of resources lobby group Straterra, says the commission has done a good job and the country's mines have to be safe.

However, he says there are concerns the country's underground coal-mining industry will be stifled by over-regulation.

"This is not a case of one size fits all.

"Obviously, what we want is a safe working environment – but the technical issues that one mine faces are quite different than those faced by another mine. Mines are site and geology specific."

Mr Baker is confident the industry can work with the government and regulators to ensure safe working conditions.

"It's about the appropriate skills and the regulations being fit for purpose.

"In the end, the regulations are important but they're only a part of what you need to ensure you've got a safe work environment.

"I give the Royal Commission all credit – they've identified the range of components, worker participation, leadership from the board, all of those things that are really important to get the right culture that delivers safe workplaces."

If people are found to be culpable in the Pike River disaster they should be charged, he says.

dwilliams@nbr.co.nz


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