A drilling company that admitted it failed to protect its own staff and Pike River staff has been fined $NZ46,800 ($A37,350) in connection with the November 2010 mine disaster
Valley Longwall International (VLI) admitted three health and safety charges in Greymouth District Court. The charges were related to its failure in maintaining and operating machinery following the explosion that killed 29 men at the New Zealand mine.
VLI admitted charges of failing to do enough to ensure the safety of its employees and of its contractors and subcontractors, and failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of its employees harmed another person.
VLI argued for a conviction and discharge. The company's lawyer, Pheroze Jagose, said the company had met industry standards in managing its rig safely.
'The only reason Valley plays a role here is Valley could turn off the switch to its rig.'
But crown lawyer Brent Stanaway called for a starting point of a $NZ120,000 ($A95,750) fine, saying the company's checking systems for its rig were 'woefully inadequate' and 'sorely deficient', Fairfax reported.
The Pike River victims included three men who worked for VLI Drilling - Josh Ufer, 25, Ben Rockhouse, 21, and Joseph Dunbar, who turned 17 the day before the first explosion.
Judge Jane Farish had to warn Mr Dunbar's father, Dean Dunbar, to stay quiet after an outburst during Mr Jagose's submissions.