The Royal Commission looking into the Pike River mine disaster has been told that the possibility of an open cast mine was ruled out early in its planning.
The inquiry is ending the first week of its hearing into the explosion in the mine on 19 November, in which 29 men died.
Colin Dall from West Coast Regional Council said he understood that Pike River Coal decided against seeking approval for open cast mining due to economic viability and ecological impacts in the mine area.
The regional council had the job of issuing and monitoring mine consents.
However, Mr Dall said the council did not administer the legislation relating to safety issues at the mine.