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Thursday 18 September 2014

Mining firm guilty on blast deaths

Published 18/04/2013 | 09:46

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An explosion at the Pike River Coal Mine killed 29 miners (AP/NZPA, Ross Setford)

A judge has convicted a New Zealand coal mining company of nine health and safety violations over a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

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Judge Jane Farish found that Pike River Coal failed to ensure the safety of its workers. The now-bankrupt company did not defend itself against the charges.

An earlier government investigation found the company ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the mine and that it was exposing miners to unacceptable risks as it strove to meet financial targets.

The company will be sentenced in July. Each of the charges comes with a maximum penalty of 250,000 New Zealand dollars (£138,000).

Former chief executive Peter Whittall has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges. His case has yet to be heard.

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