Another mine explosion draws attention to unsafe and dangerous industry practices

A mining disaster that should not have happened

_Updated: 25 Nov 2010. The latest graphic illustration confirms the earlier obvious methane gas leak through the Howera Fault.

Although this man-made disaster could have been  averted by simple commonsense foresight, such oversights are not legally prosecuted for various vested business interests.
Such safety lapses and cost-cutting measures occur on daily basis across the globe. But as clearly seen in the BP Gulf mega Oil Spill and in this mining disaster, it was a disaster just waiting to happen when negligence meets Nature’s fault-line.

Some facts from BBC news report

  • New Zealand’s largest coal mine
  • Employs some 150 people
  • Operational since 2008
  • Accesses Brunner and Paparoa coal seams via 2.3km tunnel under Paparoa Ranges
  • 5.5m-wide, 4.5m-high tunnel bisects Hawera fault, through which methane gas is known to leak
  • First blast is believed to have happened at 1530 (0230 GMT) on Friday
  • Two injured miners emerged from the tunnel entrance on Friday evening

posted 24 Nov 2010.

What is the common factor between the BP Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster and the Pike Mine Disaster?

Both companies knowingly drilled into a fault zone with good probabilities of leaking methane gas. The dangers of methane gas had been well-documented and forewarned yet both companies did not exercise extra precautions. On the contrary, instead of beefing up capability (manual expertise and equipment) we saw equipment failing below working specifications.
In the Pike Mine, there were reports that the faulty pumps for the ventilators were not working to capacity. When a tunnel intersect a known fault (Hawera Fault – 60 m wide zone of fractured rocks) surely the possibility of gas infusion into the tunnel should have been checked out. So why were there no reported inspection checks on the methane gas level? Why was the methane allowed to build up to explosive level?
Was there any element of willful negligence as in BP disaster?
Read the latest news on the second explosion.
IS it any surprise the second explosion occur after boreholes were drilled into the tunnel? Basically you are introducing air into an explosive mixture.  Should that not be obvious?

~~~~Start of Quote~~~~

An Australian gas drainage engineer who visited the site last year said operating standards were “extremely poor”.

His comments were backed up by a world renowned Kiwi mining safety expert who said the explosion at Pike River should never have happened.

Neither will be publicly identified but say safety problems will be investigated in the coming weeks.

“In developed countries like the United States and New Zealand we shouldn’t be having these kinds of accidents,” the New Zealand expert said.

He was also referring to an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia which killed 29 miners on April 5.


Posted by Elephant Buddy01


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