Allegations NZ mines switching off methane sensors

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New Zealand miner Solid Energy has announced plans to hold urgent public meetings after claims the mine was switching off gas sensors in order to maintain production.

A miner at the company’s Huntly East Mine has told local media workers had previously put rags over methane sensors – which automatically switch off mine equipment – when gas levels reached 1.25 per cent.

According to Stuff the worker said high gas levels had been constantly alerting sensors and switching off equipment, frustrating some employers.

“They have to stop what they’re doing, walk to their station, reset the equipment, then walk back and continue what they’re doing,” he said.

He said gas levels above 1.25 per cent had been common in the poorly ventilated sections of the mine employees had been working in.

But Solid Energy said it was confident the mine had been operating safely and it could not find any evidence to support the leaked allegations.

Queensland Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union inspector Tim Whyte has slammed the NZ industry’s reaction to gas spikes.

According to Stuff Whyte said a November 11 incident where employees continued working at a mine after gas levels reached five per cent was unacceptable.

He said if gas levels reached 2.5 per cent anywhere in Queensland the mine was evacuated.

The current safety regulations at Huntly East dictate evacuation occur only after levels reach above five per cent.

Whyte said comparing regulation between Queensland and New Zealand was like “chalk and cheese”.

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