An expert on hydro mining from Japan and witnesses from the Department of Labour are amongst the nine people who will be heard during the November hearings of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy.

Commission hearings are scheduled to run from Monday 14 November to Friday 25 November in Greymouth.

“This fortnight of hearings will focus on the external oversight of health and safety at the Pike River Coal mine and issues related to hydro mining,” says Justice Graham Panckhurst, Commission Chairperson.

“We have around six weeks of hearings set aside to help us answer the wider question “what happened at Pike River?”.  This will include examining the cause of the explosions, the company’s operational and management practices and the regulatory oversight of the mining operation.

“We acknowledge that the November hearings are happening at the same time as the community is marking the first anniversary of the tragedy.  We will be only too aware of this as we reconvene in Greymouth and are underway with the hearings,” says Justice Panckhurst.

Pike River Royal Commission Hearings Witness List
14 November – 25 November 2011

Date Witness Role
Monday 14 November - Friday 18 November

Opening Statement

Simon Mount

Counsel Assisting the Commission
  External oversight of health and safety at the mine  
  Michael Firmin  Health and Safety Inspector, Department of Labour
  Kevin Poynter  Former Health and Safety Inspector, Department of Labour
  Alan Cooper  Practice Leader, Health and Safety Practice Development, Department of Labour
  Kathleen Callaghan 
Director, Human Factors Group, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Auckland
  David Stewart  Mining Consultant, Minserv International Ltd
Monday 21 November –
Friday 25 November
Mine systems (the hydro mining process and systems)  
  Craig Smith  General Manager, Underground Mines, Solid Energy
  Masaoki Nishioka Former Hydro Mining Operator, Pike River Coal Ltd
  Stephen Wylie  Former Deputy, Pike River Coal Ltd 
  George Mason Form Former Hydro Mining Co-ordinator, Pike River Coal Ltd

The Commission will release another witness list for the hearings scheduled to run from Monday 5 December to Friday 16 December.  The December hearings will examine Pike River Coal Ltd’s health and safety systems and the safety culture.

There will be further hearings in February to look at the cause of the explosions and mine systems, with a focus on the elements that contributed to the initial explosion.

The hearings will help the Commission’s examination of the matters set out in its Phase Three List of Issues.

The public is welcome at the Commission’s hearings. Transcripts of each day’s hearings are expected to be available from http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz by 6.00pm on the day. 

The hearings will be live streamed through TVNZ’s and TV3’s websites.

There are four phases to the Commission’s Inquiry: Phase One-Context, Phase Two-Search and Rescue, Phase Three-What happened at the Pike River Mine and why, and Phase Four-Policy Aspects.