22 Jun 2012

Huntly mine resumes partial operations

7:00 pm on 22 June 2012

Solid Energy says mine inspectors are being extra cautious in the wake of the Pike River tragedy, and it expects more mines will be forced to temporarily shut in the future.

The Department of Labour suspended operations at the Huntly East mine on Wednesday night after inspectors discovered a build-up of methane gas.

The Department agreed to lift the prohibition notice on mine development on Friday, but will not allow coal extraction to resume until it is assured ventilation throughout the mine is working.

Chair of Solid Energy John Palmer says the prohibition notices are a result of heightened concerns in the industry.

He says gas levels have been low and at no stage over the past few days has there been any risk to people's safety.

Neighbours want earlier advice

People who live near the Huntly East mine say Solid Energy should tell them about any gas problems at the mine before going to the wider public.

Miners were told to go home on Wednesday night because Department of Labour inspectors had found a large pocket of built-up methane in a newly mined area.

Sarah Smith and her neighbour Carol, who live about 200 metres from the mine's gates, say they found out about the problem only because of the media presence.

Solid Energy says it has no intention of holding a community meeting because it is confident the mine is safe.