New Zealand Pike River mine blast firm in receivership

Personal items of late miners at memorial service on 2 December
Image caption The disaster devastated a small community

The coal mine in New Zealand where 29 miners were killed in an explosion in November has gone into receivership.

The company operating the Pike River mine said it faced insolvency and could not repay its loans.

An executive said there would be an extended period before mining could resume.

He added that the company receivers would pay particular attention to recovering the miners' bodies from inside the mine.

A blast ripped through the mine, near the South Island town of Greymouth, on 19 November trapping the miners. They were declared dead after a second explosion five days later.

A fire in a coal seam has prevented the recovery of bodies so far, though the authorities have been pumping inert gases into the tunnel to put it out.

New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG), which owns 29% of the shares in Pike River Coal Ltd, appointed a receiver after it became clear that the mine would not be able to meet its obligations, even after a temporary reprieve period.

"It is now evident that it will be an extended period before any resumption of mining can be contemplated, and with PRCL rapidly facing insolvency, receivership is an unavoidable step," said NZOG CEO David Salisbury.

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