- Written by John Miller
The entire global mining community is mourning the loss of 29 miners at the Pike River coal mine in New Zealand and offers condolences to the families of the miners and the community of Greymouth.
The tragedy has hit the mining industry hard, particularly the underground fraternity who share such a strong bond. The risks involved in any type of underground mining have helped create this bond among miners, no matter whether they are in China, Africa, Russia, the US, Australia or New Zealand.
Any mining injury is a cause for concern but when fatalities occur it becomes even more disturbing and brings about questions about the safety record of the industry.
Even in this modern, technological age where there is so much awareness of, and emphasis on safety, mining is a risky business and underground coal mining is more riskier than most with the threat of gas and explosions, such as those which rocked the Pike River mine.
The tragic events near Greymouth are a reminder to all in the industry that we must continue to be obsessed with safety and must continue to do whatever is possible to ensure improved safety at all times and in all situations.
2010 has not been a good year for the mining industry in terms of disasters with 29 miners also lost in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, USA, during April, continuing deaths in China’s many unregulated mines and the hard rock mine collapse in Chile which captured world attention as these miners were, thankfully, rescued.
Australia has had its fair share of mining disasters over the years and the mining communities involved still commemorate the passing of miners in various ways.
Each mining fatality is one too many and each one must always result in the mining industry learning from the unfortunate events that led to the fatality.
There is a very tangible way that the mining industry can support the families and communities of the men who lost their lives at the Pike River coal mine. Pike River Coal Limited has established a relief fund and has made a contribution of $500,000 to kick it off.
Pike chairman John Dow says the 'Pike River Miners' Relief Fund' has been established as a charitable trust and trustees will be appointed from the community.
Donations can be made by: Direct credit to - Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Trust Account for Pike River Miner's Relief Fund, National Bank of New Zealand, Featherston Street, Wellington, New Zealand. Account Number: 06-0501-0121759-02; or by post to - Pike Miners Relief Fund, PO Box 2793, Wellington, New Zealand.