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Spring Creek Mine to remain shut for now

13:13 Tue Feb 21 2012
The Labour Department says it is concerned production continued at Spring Creek coal mine without three incidents being fully investigated
The Labour Department says it is concerned production continued at Spring Creek coal mine without three incidents being fully investigated

The halt to mining at Spring Creek Mine on the West Coast will remain in place until at least Wednesday.

Department of Labour inspectors met Solid Energy senior managers via teleconference on Tuesday to discuss the safety issues which prompted the department to issue a prohibition notice stopping production at the mine on Monday.

The notice was issued after the department was unhappy about the state-owned company's management of three incidents in the past two weeks.

Acting mines chief inspector Gavin Taylor says Solid Energy agreed to fully explain the incidents and put together a plan and definite timeline for addressing the safety failures.

Mr Taylor says Solid Energy was open and responsive to its concerns.

"We've told Solid Energy that providing this information meets our requirements, we will lift the prohibition notice," he said.

"The department does not expect to be able to make a decision on lifting the prohibition notice until sometime tomorrow as it will take at least the rest of today for Solid Energy to develop appropriate information for us to consider."

The three incidents were:

* a diesel generator catching fire, injecting high concentrations of carbon monoxide into the mine;

* one of the two main fans tripping with no alert to management for 90 minutes;

* an underground auxiliary fan tripping on two consecutive days, without stopping the machine as it should have.

Inspectors were concerned production continued at the mine despite the incidents not being fully investigated.

Solid Energy chief operating officer Barry Bragg said on Monday the incidents shouldn't have happened.

Mine safety has become a major issue after 29 men were killed in explosions in the Pike River mine in November 2010.

"We know expectations have been raised substantially," Mr Bragg told NZ Newswire.

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