Mining Risks Highlighted By New Zealand Drama

Explosion Highlights Dangers Of The Industry


The safety measures used within the mining industry across the globe are under the spotlight after the latest serious mining accident in New Zealand, a leading personal injury lawyer has suggested.

Clive Garner, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in claims related to serious injury and fatal accidents abroad, said it is concerning that this incident has occurred just weeks after the workers trapped in a mine in Chile for over two months were rescued.

The British law firm also represent the family of another British man tragically killed together with over 100 mine workers in an explosion at the underground Ulyanovskaya Mine in Russia in March 2007. Like events in New Zealand, particular concerns have been raised in relation to the levels of gas in the mine, with an investigation suggesting the explosion was caused by a dangerous build-up of methane. An inquest is set to be held at Hull Coroner’s Court in the coming weeks.

Two Britons – Peter Roger and Malcolm Campbell – are among the 29 men who have been missing since an explosion at the Pike River mine, near Greymouth on South Island, New Zealand on Friday afternoon.

The precise cause of the New Zealand blast is not yet known.  However, the Pike River tunnel bisects the Hawera fault line, and methane gas is known to seep into the tunnel from the fault.  Some experts have suggested that the explosion may have been caused by the combustion of methane gas, coal dust or a combination of the two.

High levels of methane and other noxious gases within the mine have hampered rescue efforts. Unfortunately, reports now tragically suggest it is unlikely that any of the miners will have survived a second explosion which occurred in the mine on Wednesday (November 24th).

Commenting on the incident, Clive Garner said: "Mining has always been a hazardous occupation and recent events around the world have highlighted the need for improved safety standards to protect mineworkers.

"While the outcome of the New Zealand rescue attempt remains uncertain at this point, questions will need to be asked as to whether proper risk assessments were carried out and if the procedures in place to protect the mineworkers were suitable.

"More clearly needs to be done to ensure that all those who undertake mining work around the world and for the good of society are provided with adequate protection and that all reasonable steps are taken to make their working environment a safe one."

For more information about the forthcoming inquest following the fatal Russian mining disaster, click here or please contact Clive Garner, Phil Banks or Lesley Edwards at Irwin Mitchell.