18 Jul 2012

Fire now out in Waihi goldmine

11:08 pm on 18 July 2012

Newmont Mining says the fire that broke out in its Trio goldmine at Waihi on Tuesday is now completely out.

The company says photos of the 35-tonne truck that caught fire about 5am, causing the evacuation of 28 men, show two of its tyres have exploded as expected.

But it says it won't be until midday on Thursday before the danger from two unexploded rear tyres has passed and the mine can reopen.

It says the truck will be towed out at some stage.

Normal work is expected to resume in the mine over the weekend.

Cab 'filled with smoke'

Newmont Waihi Gold external affairs manager Sefton Darby says the truck's cab filled with smoke before the driver was able to reach for his fire extinguisher.

He says the driver made the right call to go instead to a refuge chamber, which was equipped with oxygen.

Newmont Mining says an investigation will be held into the fire and the evacuation.

Mr Sefton told Morning Report production comes second to the investigation and the priority is to find out what caused the fire.

A high hazards team from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment will also begin an investigation.

The company says the team was due on the site on Wednesday anyway, for a routine check.

Contact lost

The company revealed on Wednesday it lost contact for two hours with one of the refuge chambers in which miners waited for rescue.

Mr Darby says the company initially had telephone contact with all three chambers and was able to confirm that everybody was accounted for fairly quickly. However, contact was lost with one chamber.

He says it took several hours to confirm where the fire was, which refuge chambers the miners were sheltering in, and the atmospheric conditions before the evacuation could start.