Hunter company Valley Longwall fined after NZ Pike River mine disaster

Hunter mining company Valley Longwall has been fined nearly $40,000 in the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster in New Zealand in 2010.

In the Greymouth District Court this week, an arm of the company, Valley Longwall International, admitted to charges of failing to maintain the methane sensor on a drill rig being used in the mine at the time of the explosion on November 19, 2010.

Three Valley Longwall workers – including one who was underground for an orientation tour the day before he was due to start work there – were among the 29 people killed by an explosion at the mine.

Valley Longwall said mine operator Pike River Coal Ltd was responsible for certifying the gas monitors on the drill rigs although it had its own checking procedures as well.

 The company was fined $NZ46,800 ($A37,350) after pleading guilty to three charges under New Zealand’s Health and Safety in Employment Act.

A spokesman for Valley Longwall said the Department of Labour ‘‘acknowledged that our failure caused no actual harm, and could not be causally linked to the tragic explosions at the mine’’.

Although the company believed it been ‘‘innovative’’ in its safety standards, it could not say ‘‘hand on heart’’ it had done all it could to keep its people safe and had decided to plead guilty.  with AAP 

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