Coal extraction halted over safety concerns

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2014

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The Takitimu coal mine at Nightcaps has been told to stop coal extraction after WorkSafe inspectors identified safety issues.

WorkSafe New Zealand chief mines inspector Tony Forster said owner Bathurst Resources was issued with the prohibition notice on Thursday after High Hazards Unit inspectors raised concern about the mine's coal extraction process.

"In basic terms, there was a risk of material above the working area falling onto those working below," Mr Forster said yesterday.

Bathurst Resources chief operating officer Richard Tacon said there was no immediate danger to workers, but Mr Forster said that was why prohibition notices were issued.

Bathurst Resources and Mr Forster discussed a work resumption plan yesterday.

"As part of that plan, the company has voluntarily agreed to stop coal extraction in the area of most concern until work is carried out to make the area safe.

"The company has also agreed to provide the High Hazards Unit with the plan by the end of the week that outlines how it intends to avoid a repeat of the failure found by inspectors," Mr Forster said.

"On that basis, the High Hazards Unit has lifted the prohibition notice, but I should stress that there will be no coal extraction in the area of the mine that is of concern until the . . . unit is completely satisfied that it can be done in a way that ensures every person on site is safe," he said.

Bathurst Resources managing director Hamish Bohannan saida lot of new regulations thad come in since the Pike River mine disaster.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union Southland organiser Trevor Hobbs said he had been made aware of the issue, and had further concerns around health and safety at the mine.

WorkSafe New Zealand was unable to comment on what tasks Bathurst Resources was required to complete at the Takitimu mine before it would be allowed to resume coal extraction in the areas of concern.

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