25 Jul 2012

Shut down at West Coast mine

6:18 pm on 25 July 2012

Mine safety inspectors have shut down parts of a West Coast mine after an accident which they believe could have been fatal.

The high hazards unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has put a prohibition notice on development operations at Solid Energy's Spring Creek mine after a miner was hit by falling coal at 2am on Wednesday.

Development areas are those in an underground coal mine being prepared for mining.

The unit's general manager, Brett Murray, says inspectors who went to the mine were concerned that the management of strata (or seam) stability is not at an acceptable level.

Mr Murray says the inspectors believe the accident had the potential to be fatal and they have shut down work in development areas pending a proper assessment of strata stability.

Solid Energy's group manager coal operations Larry Hull says the injured mineworker is receiving treatment at Christchurch Hospital.

Mr Hull says the miner was part of a team installing roof supports in a recently-formed underground tunnel area.

He says it appears a lump of coal fell to the floor nearby and knocked him down as it toppled over.

He says Solid Energy is very concerned that a miner has been hurt and says prior to the inspectors' decision to shut the mine, the mine's management team had already halted underground face operations.