Training facility in memory of Pike River
A new legacy has been unveiled for the 29 men who died in the Pike River coalmine disaster.
About 120 people attended today's official opening of the Development West Coast Mines Rescue Training Centre, a world-class training facility for mining rescues and other industries.
It was funded by a $1 million grant that DWC donated to the Pike River distribution fund after the November 2010 blast.
Fund administrators gave that money to Mines Rescue Trust for the new facility at its Rapahoe headquarters, north of Greymouth.
DWC chairman John Sturgeon called for few moments of silence during his speech to remember the 29 men who died.
Cobden-Runanga Anglican Vicar Tim Mora, who blessed the 350sqm building, prayed that those involved with mines rescue "may never ever be needed".
Later, Bernie Monk, spokesman for most Pike families, said the centre was a welcome addition for mining and all industries to train for their jobs.
"Obviously there was an enormous lack (of training) at Pike….Hence this is another legacy for the 29 men that they are leaving behind."
His son, Michael, 23, a contractor killed in the blast, had voiced concerns to his parents that he had minimal training before he was deemed ready to work in the mine.
"His training before he went underground was unacceptable."
Monk said a large photo of White Knight Stream covering a wall at the new centre’s entrance was a subtle reminder of the disaster.
That stream flows past Pike River coalmine’s tunnel entrance.
Charlie Cotton, who was New Zealand’s second superintendent of Mines Rescue from 1952-55, was a special guest at the opening and was impressed with the new facility plus the modern mines rescue gear.
Cotton, due to turn 96 next week, worked in Strongman Mine when it exploded in 1967, killing 19 men, and helped retrieve bodies.
Mines Rescue Trust chairman Dave Stewart told the crowd it had been a difficult three years for mines rescue with the Pike River tragedy and Solid Energy’s massive cuts in mining.
"There are certainly no positives that you can say that can come out of a tragic event like Pike River but I think there is some hope and I think there is a future and this building that we’re standing in right now, which has just been constructed, is an example of what that future can be."
Other positive changes from the royal commission into the tragedy included new mining legislation, which gave increased powers to mines rescue, he said.
"This means that the mines rescue has really come out of this mess with some expanded capacity and really a distinctive and quite clear future, which will benefit the industry in the long term."
He said the disaster and new legislation highlighted that training was vital for all those working in mines.
The centre included three seminar rooms and office space plus an underground training tunnel for real life simulated training in limited visibility environments.
It would be available for training those working in underground and surface extraction plus for other industries that worked in confined spaces, with breathing apparatus, and in gas awareness and detection.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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