The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

Was it ‘Murder at Pike River Mine’? Is there a ‘cover-up’ happening now? Read this and you be the judge?

6 April 2011


Was it ‘Murder at Pike River Mine’? Read this and you be the judge? Follows this article…)

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out the Government paying the legal fees for Pike River Coal’s receivers during the Royal Commission of inquiry into the disaster.

Key said this afternoon he believed the receivers had sufficient cash to cover the company’s legal costs during the inquiry into the series of explosions which claimed 29 lives, and he was ”disappointed” they had asked the Government for help.

”We would contest the view that they can’t afford to actually pay for legal representation if they want it.

”From our analysis, they had $10.9 million before they went into receivership. They’ve spent about five or six million, so we think they’ve got four to five million dollars left.

”If they want to fund representation they can. It’s not an adversarial court, it’s an inquiry process and our view is the company’s got resources to actually pay its own legal bills if it wants to.”

The Government has funded legal representation for the 29 families of the dead miners and paid for legal assistance for the company’s contractors and workers.

He said the company would be expected to answer questions if called by the commission, which had extensive subpoena powers, whether or not it had legal representation.

At a preliminary hearing for the commission in Greymouth yesterday, Pike River Coal lawyer Stacey Shortall said the company could not afford to fully participate in the inquiry.

She said the company did not have the money to prepare the documents and witness statements the commission had requested and would have legal representation at only some hearings.

Pike River receiver John Fisk told The Press the situation was ‘difficult’, but the company’s priority was preserving its ‘limited resources’ for secured creditors.

The company would still make its executives, including former chief executive Peter Whittall, available to the commission, Fisk said.

Commission chairman Justice Graham Panckhurst told Shortall the commission expected ”active involvement” from the company, particularly in phase three of the inquiry, which would focus on what caused the explosion that killed the men.




According to news reports, the giant methane explosion in the mine occurred around 3.15pm± 3.30pm on Friday,
19 November 2010. Quite simply, it was massive. The force of the explosion blew out of a 110meter deep ventilation shaft and blackened the surrounding bush60meters away from the shaft portal.
It also blew over 2km down the main access tunnel and was recorded by a CCTV camera at the portal blasting outwards for 52 seconds, so remarkably, there must have been an enormous, undetected buildup of methane in the mine prior to the explosion, but no warnings or alarms for the miners ever sounded.
Clearly, there was no proper fixed methane gas detection monitoring system in the mine connected to alarms, or if there was the system was not working. It seems there also was no monitoring system to the office outside for 24 hour constant surveillance either.
All this is rather strange, since strategically located gas detectors are now a standard requirement in all Australian and US underground coal mines. There are strict requirements to provide extensive gas monitoring, safety and health management systems in all Australian mines in which the CEO, Peter Whittall, has been trained and worked.
Why were there none working?
The first reports of an explosion were at 3.45pm and management was not even aware that there had been an explosion until around 4.10pm, nearly an hour after the estimated time of the explosion!
This is much more than extreme negligence
Gas Detectors are also available for miners as well that are lightweight, shock and vibration resistant, simple to operate, self calibrating, will not ignite coal dust, provide instant gas analysis, and provide REMOTE PROTECTION UP TO 500 FEET AWAY!
These detectors are also invaluable in mine rescue operations.
Today there is simply ³no excuse´for any, properly run, safety conscious, coal mine company to have any explosion at all!
For example, there are strict requirements for alternative electricity supply, continuous gas monitoring of both portable and fixed methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen gas detectors in all underground coal mines in Queensland, Australia, and they are all clearly outlined in the Queensland Coal Mining Safety and
Health Regulation 2001 (still in force as at 1st October 2010).
These regulations also specify precise locations of detectors and alarms,an underground mine manager who is designated to acknowledge alarms, and at least one person must be on the surface at all times monitoring the situation when at least one person is underground.
The regulations also provide precise safety requirements for the site senior executive to follow, including the monitoring of auxiliary or booster fans which are to be protected by methane detectors connected to audible and visible alarms that trip the electricity supply to the fans when the gas concentration exceeds 2%.
According to all news reports, the Pike River Mine explosion was discovered by a mine electrician, Russell Smith, who went into the mine to investigate a power outage, and was hit by the mine blast about 1km into the access tunnel. In the United States, it is well known byall executives in the coal mine industry that Federal Mining Regulations require that all personnel must begin evacuating a mine within 15 minutes of a fan stoppage.
Since the power stoppage had occurred long before the explosion, it may have caused the ventilation fans to stop, causing the methane gas levels to build up to dangerously explosive levels very quickly, thus causing the explosion. Had the workers stopped and evacuated the mine immediately the power outage had occurred as they should have within the well-known recommended safety period, they would never have been killed, and probably there never would have been an explosion.
All underground coalmines in the US and Australia must have secondary power supply.
According to reports, remarkably, Pike River Mine Ltd had no proper gas monitoring system, no auxiliary power supply, and obviously no safety plan to evacuate the mine following a power failure, accident or explosion.

April 6, 2011 - Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Human rights, Internationally significant information, Uncategorized


  1. All the questions you asked will be or should be answered during the enquiry.I believe the whole mining operation was shoddilly run and on the cheap.We do not need overseas operators working our mineral wealth.there is the experteses and cash availible in NZ if only the Govt would take a longer view for the good of the country

    Comment by P>Wootton | April 12, 2011 | Reply

  2. […] Source: […]

    Pingback by Uncensored Magazine | Was it ‘Murder at Pike River Mine’? Is there a ‘cover-up’ happening now? | May 17, 2011 | Reply

  3. I am retired 60 Yr old male BE CIVIL74 REA 2002
    included in the 38 making written submissions to Pike Mine Royal Commission. I would like to use your comments re gas detection/legislation/secondary power supply. CEO is writing. I can not afford minerescue conference Brisbane 30 May. I say Uk history /legislation NO explosions 77 years better. I changed Section 54 HSE Act 2002, following Ipenz position paper 1993-1994/my attendance at Cave Creek/ Derailment Train 235 14-3-98

    Comment by Harry Bradshaw | May 25, 2011 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: