The former head of Solid Energy Don Elder has blamed the
troubled coal company's $389 million debt on the "perfect
storm'' of unprecedented coal price falls last year and the
strong Kiwi dollar.
Dr Elder fronted for the first time before the commerce
committee at Parliament today alongside former chairman John
Dr Elder said the committee had always been the appropriate
place for him to give answers on the fate of the company.
He said it wasn't just New Zealand coal companies that were
feeling the brunt of a drop in the price of coal, but US
companies were also in serious trouble.
He said the situation with Solid Energy needed to be looked
at within an international context.
Dr Elder offered an apology to workers on the West Coast who
lost their jobs.
"I accept there are decisions we would have made
"I am very sorry for things people at Solid Energy are going
"Every single one of them [minster and workers] has been
passionate about our business.''
Dr Elder defended his tenure with Solid Energy saying the
company had been brought back from the bring of closure in
"Over 12 years Solid Energy has doubled production."
He said the company had withstood a 60 per cent crash in coal
prices and generated $1 billion direct revenue to Mr Palmer
stepped down as chairman last June, 18 months before his term
was scheduled to end.
Dr Elder stepped down in early February, days before Finance
Minister Bill English revealed the company was tottering
under $389 million in debt and was in talk with bankers.