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Experts to start safety audit of underground coal mines
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Experts to start safety audit of underground coal mines

16 December 2010

Two Australian mining experts have been contracted to undertake a safety audit of the country’s underground coal mines.

The Department of Labour has contracted Brett Garland and Tim Watson to audit the five mines and prepare a report on their health and safety.

The audit was announced on 29 November by the Prime Minister in response to the tragedy at Pike River coal mine. It will involve physical inspections of the mines, and a review of the health and safety systems and processes that are in place in each mine.

Mr Garland is the Chief Operating Officer of Caledon Coal in Queensland and is a Director of Queensland Mines Rescue Services. He has more than 20 years experience in mining including senior management roles in a number of Australian mining companies.

Mr Watson is a Senior Mines Inspector for the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation in Queensland. He offers valuable regulatory experience in mine inspections and audits.

Mr Garland will arrive in New Zealand next week to carry out initial inspections of the mines before Christmas.

Mr Watson will join Mr Garland in January for follow-up visits to each mine, with a final report on their safety produced by the end of February.

Notes to Editor

  • There are five underground coal mines in New Zealand to be audited. Four of them are operational and are producing coal: Huntly East in Waikato, Spring Creek, Burkes Creek and Roa mine which are on the West Coast. The fifth mine, which will also be audited, Terrace mine is undergoing maintenance and is currently not producing coal
  • Pike River coal mine is not included in the safety audit
  • The Department’s investigation into the tragedy at Pike River coal mine is continuing and limited information can be released while this is ongoing

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