Solid Energy boss quits

Last updated 11:26 04/02/2013
don elder

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Solid Energy boss Don Elder has announced his resignation from the company.

In a statement released by Solid Energy today, the company said Elder had decided to step down immediately as chief executive.

Discussions on the resignation had been under way ''for some time'', it said.

Elder said in the statement that "as the company worked its way out of the major global market downturn in 2012, including significant restructuring, the board would be considering many future changes". 

Garry Diack, previously the company's organisational development and performance group manager, will be the interim chief executive until a new appointment is made.

Elder said he would remain available for a time to help the company during its search for a successor.

Last year, Solid Energy announced plans to cut 450 staff positions.

The company's downsizing included closing the Spring Creek coalmine on the West Coast, with the loss of 220 jobs.

At the time, Elder said international semi-soft coking coal prices meant the Spring Creek operation "remained uneconomic".

Solid Energy said it planned to reduce corporate, support services and development jobs from 313 to 151.  

The company's Huntly East mine workforce was cut from 234 to 171.

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

Meanwhile, Pike River families are "hoping and praying" the new head of Solid Energy will show compassion to their situation. 

Solid Energy bought the Pike River mine from the receivers of the former Pike River Coal company last year.

The bodies of the 29 men who died in the Pike River explosion remain in the mine.

Spokesman for some Pike River families Bernie Monk said they had enjoyed a "good relationship" with Elder and were sad to see him go.

"It doesn't come as a surprise. From a financial view, boards make changes and have decided to go in a different direction. It happens," he said

"But from a personal point of view, he had a lot of compassion for us and we worked well together."

Monk was "hoping and praying" whoever replaced Elder could "get what needs to be done, done".

"It's the story of the Pike families' lives. We're constantly getting someone new and having to go through everything again. First it was Pike, then the police, then Pike again, then the receiver, then Solid Energy and now this," he said.

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