Experts, Government agencies and mine representatives to appear before Commission hearings

Twelve witnesses including experts, representatives of Government departments, mining companies and a regional council will appear before the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy at public hearings commencing next week.

There are four phases to the Royal Commission inquiry on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy:  Phase One – Context, Phase Two- Search and Rescue, Phase Three – What happened at Pike River and Phase Four – Policy Aspects.

The Commission hearings which will examine the Phase One – Context issues are scheduled to commence on Monday 11 July and run into the following week at the Greymouth District Court.

The contextual phase comprises the New Zealand regulatory environment; the interaction of mining law and other law in New Zealand; the resourcing and implementation of mining law in New Zealand and the geography, conception, approval, design and development of the mine.

The hearings are only one aspect of the inquiry process. To date the Commission has been gathering evidence from a range of places and sources. A considerable volume of material has been received already in relation to the Phase One aspects.

The hearings provide an opportunity to clarify and test matters, and to fill in any gaps which exist in the information obtained by the Commission so far. 

Phase One: Context Hearing Timetable

Timing (NB timetabling may change as hearings progress)


Week One

Monday 11 July – 11.30am

Counsel Assisting the Commission (Opening Statement)


Dr Don Elder -  CEO Solid Energy NZ Ltd

Tuesday 12 July

Dr Jane Newman - Newman Energy Research


Harry Bell - Former Chief Inspector of Coal mines

Wednesday 13 July

Robin Hughes - Former Chief Inspector of Coal Mines


Ministry of Economic Development

(2 witnesses)


West Coast Regional Council (1 witness)

Thursday 14 July

Department of Conservation (2 witnesses)

Friday 15 July

Department of Labour (2 witnesses)

Week Two

Monday 18 July

Peter Whittall - CEO Pike River Coal Ltd (in Recievership)

Members of the public are welcome at the hearings. Transcripts of each day’s hearings are expected to be available from by 6.00pm on the day. 

The hearings are also expected to be live streamed through TVNZ’s and TV3’s websites.