Two investigations after Waihi mine fire
Wed, 18 Jul 2012 6:12p.m.
By Tom McRae
The truck fire which trapped 28 miners in the Newmont Trio gold mine yesterday is now out, with two investigations launched into its cause and the response.
Speaking to 3 News today, one of the men trapped underground for several hours says he wasn’t scared at any stage.
Steve Sant has worked at the Waihi mines for eight years but says yesterday was the first time he has been trapped.
He says there was never any fear of not getting out.
“We all knew we were going to make it out, it was just the timeframe,” he said.
Mr Sant was operating a machine known as a bogger, 300 metres down in the deepest part of the Trio mine.
He and the others did what they were trained to - putting on breathing gear and making their way to the nearest refuge chamber.
“The mood in there was very good. Everyone was just laughing and joking.
“One of the boys had newspapers there and they were reading that – even though [the newspapers] were three months old.”
But on the surface, mine boss Glen Grindlay wasn’t laughing.
“Underground fires are probably the worst thing that can happen,” he says. “That’s because of the way we ventilate. We do fill the mine with smoke, because that’s the way the system works.”
After seven hours, help arrived. But it was the rescuers’ first time too – and getting out had its challenges.
“As a rescue team we felt we had all the resources in place to attempt what we did,” Mines Rescue captain Dave Oliver said.
The truck’s fire is now out, but the heat build-up kept everyone out of the mine for a second day.
It is hoped a team will be able to re-enter the mine tomorrow to inspect the truck and see exactly how the fire started.
Mining could resume as early as Friday.
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20/07/2012 12:17:03 p.m.
Good that emergency procedures in place, practiced and undertaken without a hitch, but the truck that burnt would have had a fire suppression system on board to prevent there being a fire in the first instance. Why didnt that put the fire out?
18/07/2012 8:03:29 p.m.
Nobody hurt or killed, emergency procedures were followed and worked. I would call this a pretty good outcome. I hope the miners are not raked over the hot coals by their bosses for this. They did what they were supposed to and deserve praise for that. So often after an accident like this, the boss just wants to boot as many backsides as he can.
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