Pike River Mine Management Raised Concerns About NZ Coal Mining Legislation, Calls for On Site Mine Inspectors

One News reported yesterday that the company that owns the Pike River coal mine itself raised concerns about mine safety in New Zealand, according to documents they obtained.

A submission by the Pike River Coal company, as part of a review of New Zealand’s mine legislation, said there was a serious shortage of mining inspectors and raises other safety concerns.

According to  TVNZ the report

“called for an increase in the coverage and the number of mine inspectors through realistic resourcing of the Department of Labour.

The submission says the number of qualified mine inspectors has dramatically dropped over the past decade.

(Kate) Wilkinson said New Zealand has two mine inspectors plus an expert.

Asked if that is enough, she said: “Well I have got no advice to suggest that it is inappropriate.”

But when asked to name the biggest safety concerns in the industry the Pike River Coal company said: “Levels of competence and experience of workers and contractors working underground is of concern. The inspectorate is seriously under-manned and under-resourced…”read the full news report here

A copy of the document’s executive summary may be found on the TVNZ site by clicking HERE, the text of which appears below, or a TV report about the Pike River submission may be watched HERE

Response Form: Improving Hazard Management Within the Underground Mining Industry

Submission by: Pike River Coal Ltd

Contact: Peter Whittall

General Manager, Mines

Date Friday 6 June 2008

Pike River Coal consent to this document being made publicly available under the Official Information Act

Executive Summary

Pike River Coal Ltd (PRCL )believes that the current New Zealand coal mining legislation (Predominantly the regulations) is inadequate in some critical areas. Review is  needed to appropriately address the current and future needs of the industry and the communities within which the mines operate and draw their labour. Any case for change should be approached in a consultative manner that fully involves all industry stakeholders. Once consensus is reached staged implementation should follow.

Unfortunately, several of the options put forward in the DOL discussion paper have the potential to plunge the industry in an unproductive quagmire of bureaucratic administration.

PRCL’S view of the draft document is that it ignores, or at least does not seek to address, some of the basic principles of health & safety and hazard management, which are:

  • Deal with human attitude to improve behaviour to achieve desired outcomes
  • Be fully consultative in the approach
  • Ensure commitment through active and full participation
  • Be supportive
  • Be educative
  • Have an effective tie risk based approach toward safety management
  • Keep it simple

It is the mew of PRCL that the principal Act needs to be amended to include a requirement for competent or qualified persons. The current mining regulations need to be reviewed to support a more critical risk or hazard review approach with a consequent critical risk management plan system to address the identified risks. A means of then demonstrating compliance needs to be created via the use of detailed codes of practice or detailed guidelines that deal to the real issues as opposed to being politically correct.

The short term strategy should consider and include:

  • A planned staged consultative approach;
  • Promote a culture of evaluation, consultation and education with the DOL and its inspectorate. The DOL have a role as inspector and compliance auditor but also one of support within the industry to assist transfer and awareness of best practice within health and safety and ensuring that smaller or less resourced operators are not ignorant either of their responsibilities or strategies for providing a safe work environment;
  • Increase the coverage and number of mines inspectors via realistic resourcing of DOL;
  • Increase education levels by involving stakeholders such as training providers;
  • Promote the use of Critical Risk review at each site and the development of a Management Plan System and supporting Standard Operating Procedures to support each Management Plan;
  • Start specific health & safety and hazard management mining campaigns and/or awards:


Government Rejects Call to Bring Back Mine Inspectors

Radio NZ today reported that the NZ government has rejected calls to re-instate a system of on-site  mine safety inspectors.

The report said that the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union called for the system to be re-introduced after it was scrapped in the the early 1990s, saying it provided vital protection for mine workers.

An international mine safety adviser, David Feickert, said the system is still in place  in Australia and Britain, where they have a lower level of incidents.

Read the full report HERE

Another proved practice, adopted abroad, that doesn’t work in New Zealand.


One thought on “Pike River Mine Management Raised Concerns About NZ Coal Mining Legislation, Calls for On Site Mine Inspectors

  1. Our hearts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in New Zealand.
    We have shared your hope, and we feel your pain. I pray for the evolution
    of these Souls (miners) on their journey. Blessings and healing to family
    and friends.

    California, USA

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