Gas closes mine

LOUISE RISK
Last updated 12:23 21/06/2012

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Mining has been stopped at Huntly East Mine after visiting inspectors identified a build-up of potentially lethal gas.

Last night Solid Energy temporarily suspended coal extraction at its Huntly East Mine after inspectors identified an accumulation of methane in a recently-mined area of the underground mine. 

The closure comes just months after the Waikato Times revealed the mine had been closed due to ''deadly'' levels of gas on November 11 last year.

On that occasion Solid Energy was forced to hold urgent public meetings to allay fears after claims of unsafe practices.

Solid Energy chief operating officer Barry Bragg said that the company remained confident that its mines were operating safely. 

''The inspectors have asked for more information about the accumulation of methane and how we are managing that methane,'' he said.

Although coal extraction and development had been suspended, mine personnel were permitted to carry out maintenance and other work underground. 

''We will provide the required information to the department today and we will meet the inspectors again tomorrow,'' Mr Bragg said.

''We are aware of no reason why the prohibition notice should not be lifted as soon as we have provided the information the department is seeking and expect to resume full mining activities shortly afterwards.''

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