New Zealand has held its inaugural mines rescue competition at Newmont's Waihi gold mine.
The event, held by WorkSafe NZ, was assisted by a number of international experts and mine safety bodies, with two member of the NSW Mines Rescue team – David Connell and Chris Clifford – attending to aid organising logistics, setup, and scenario assessment.
WorkSafe NZ chief inspector Tony Forster said "in addition to the NZ capability, the event was supervised by an impressive international cast including mines rescue officers, who provided expertise in setting up and judging the event".
"Rescue competitions are internationally recognised as a competence-building training tool, generating stress levels similar to those experienced during real emergencies."
Recently two Australian mine rescue teams competed at an international competition in Poland, with the teams performing well against other skilled competitors.
Forster went on to say that New Zealand's recent event was "an outstanding success in not only demonstrating operational skills capability, mental concentration, and physical stamina, but also establishing the huge potential for NZ coal and metal mines rescue teams combining resources to provide a national strategic support capability".
This is increasingly important for the nation, four years on from the Pike River tragedy, of which following inquiries found a dearth of sufficient mines rescue capabilities in New Zealand.
This mines rescue competition is seen as being one of the first steps in aiding the continual development and training of rescue teams in the country.
According to NSW Mines Rescue's David Connell "the level of commitment the four teams demonstrated was impressive; each team clearly had been training for the competition and this showed with a high level of skills displayed on the day".
"The competition was also successful, in a large part due to the collaboration between WorkSafe NZ and local mining operators. This allowed a unique learning experience for coal and metalliferous mines rescue teams to sharpen their emergency response skills."
The event was won by a team from Newmont's Waihi gold mine.
The Waihi Black team finished first, ahead of the Mines Rescue team from Huntly.
A second Waihi team, Waihi Red, came third, with the OceanaGold team rounding out the field. Waihi Black’s Dave Oliver was judged Best Team Captain.