A Pike River mine contractor has pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to ensure the safety of its workers in the ill-fated mine.
VLI Drilling lost three of its workers in the explosion - one of them the youngest to die, Joseph Dunbar, who was just there on work orientation.
Today's Greymouth District Court hearing has been delayed repeatedly since the start of the year.
Only one of the three parties facing 24 charges laid by the former Department of Labour made a plea this morning. VLI Drilling will be sentenced in October.
Joshua Ufer, Ben Rockhouse and Joseph Dunbar were three young men who went to work for VLI Drilling deep in the heart of the Pike River Coal mine on November 29, 2010, never to return.
Today, their Sydney-based employer accepted it had failed to have the procedures in place to ensure their safety.
VLI Drilling's lawyer told the court there are three charges against the company and it pleaded guilty to each of them.
One of those charges relates directly to the safety of Dunbar, the youngest miner killed in the explosion in the mine at only 17.
This first admission of guilt has been commended by Neville Rockhouse whose son Ben and 28 others perished at the mine.
"There are certain parties that haven't acknowledged anything each step of the way, and that's disappointing," Rockhouse told ONE News.
VLI is liable for a maximum fine of $250,000 on each charge.
"How do you put a value on 29 lives?" Rockhouse asked.
Pike River Coal faces nine charges but receivers for the company have decided not to enter a plea and will not fight the charges.
That has angered Bernie Monk, spokesman for families of victims.
"As soon as that second explosion happened they walked away from us. So they'll never be forgiven by the families, ever," Monk told ONE News.
The third party facing charges, former Pike River Coal CEO Peter Whittall, was excused from appearing in court today. His legal team was granted yet another adjournment before he must plead on the 12 charges relating to worker safety in the mine.
"There would have to be some exceptionally good reason for pleas not to be entered on that date," Judge Tony Couch said.
Whittall's lawyers were reluctant to elaborate outside court.
Families are dismayed by yet another delay.
"I'm over Peter Whittall and I'm going to let the courts, the (royal) commission and everyone else deal with him," Monk said.
The families now have to wait until October to see Whittall before the court and hear his plea.
Also today, there was news from the royal commission that it will not reconvene its public hearings to hear new evidence, despite a request from Whittall's lawyer, as it believes it has enough information to answer its terms of reference.
However a High Court review of that decision will be held on September 3 and 4.
The Royal Commission is due to report by September 28.