Peter Whittall has been appointed chief executive of Pike River Coal, replacing Gordon Ward who will step down on October 1.

Whittall has been general mines manager since joining Pike River at the company's Greymouth mine site in 2005, and moved to the Wellington head office earlier this year.

He has been involved in recent capital raisings, and was responsible for on-site construction, mine development and recruitment.

He has 30 years' experience in coal mining, mostly in Australia.