Bill English believes the 113 workers being laid off at West Coast Stockton coal mine have done everything they can to keep the company viable and have nothing to blame themselves for.
The Finance Minister admits the mine's owner Solid Energy's cutting back on production because it's losing money as coal prices plummet, and talks about the heavily indebted energy company's viability are ongoing.
"Discussions on how it can be structured from here are ongoing with the banks. But in the meantime, the company has had to take action because it's been losing money on every tonne it's putting out of Stockton."
English argues it's not as though they haven't been doing their jobs.
"Each time we've all thought they've done enough and then the price has dropped away further.
"I want to acknowledge the huge effort the workers there have made. It's pretty tough on them."