Elder resigns from Solid Energy

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 12:27 04/02/2013
Don Elder
DON SCOTT/ Fairfax NZ
MOVING ON: Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder has resigned.

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Long-standing Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder has resigned from the state-owned coalminer.

Elder, who has run the company since 2000, announced his departure today.

Discussions over the resignation had been underway ‘‘for some time’’, the company said in a statement.

Last year, Solid Energy went through a massive restructuring cutting staff by a quarter and closing Spring Creek underground mine with the loss of about 230 workers, caused by plummeting coal values.

Elder has stepped down from the company’s helm immediately, but has remained available for a time to help the company during its search for a successor.

Chairman Mark Ford said Solid Energy had grown under Elder and achieved many successes, and he thanked him for his work.

In the interim, the company’s organisational development group manager, Garry Diack, will act as chief executive.

Elder said it was appropriate and timely - given the restructuring - that the company be led by a new chief executive.

He believed the company had a strong future once it worked its way out of the market downturn and thanked the employees who had helped it achieve past successes. He wished them the best for the future.

In 2000, Elder was installed in what was expected to be a three-year post as Solid Energy’s chief executive to pay off the company’s debt and wind it up.

The company had lost $87 million in the year to June 1999 through a slump in international coal prices and $24m of losses on currency hedging contracts.

It was suggested Elder view the role at Solid Energy, formerly Coal Corp, as a stepping stone to bigger paying positions overseas.

Elder had been head-hunted while in New Zealand for his brother’s wedding and had been working in Canada in a high-powered environmental consulting job at Jacques Whitford Group, one of Canada’s leading engineering companies with worldwide offices, where he had held management roles in corporate development and in environmental engineering from 1990-2000.

Elder had not been a chief executive before. He was trained as a civil engineer and gained a first class honours degree from Canterbury University, later a doctorate from Oxford University and also a Rhodes Scholarship.

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