Pike River coal mine’s deadly explosion has been blamed on a string events caused by a roof collapse.
The ongoing royal commission into the disaster has told media that a panel of five experts believes they have uncovered the cause of the explosion, according to Stuff.co.nz
The explosion was reportedly caused by a roof collapse which expelled methane gas around the mine, which then ignited due to a spark from the electrical system after the water pumps were turned on.
The resulting blast killed 29 men.
According to chairman of the inquiry, Graham Panckhurst, the mine’s roof caved in at the goaf; pushing high amounts of methane into the rest of the mine.
Pike River was already noted as a particularly gassy coal mine, although it has been revealed that plastic bags were used to cover the gas sensors, ading to the tragedy.
It is believed that arcing from the mine’s electrical system caused the methane and coal dust to ignite.
The mine reportedly exploded soon after Pike River control room officer Daniel Duggan switched on the water pumps, which had been turned off for maintenance.
Prior to the explosion, Duggan told the commission he spoke to who he believed was Scottish miner Malcolm Campbell.
Duggan stated that he spoke to the miners to inform them that water pumps were online again after maintenance, and that mining could restart.
Only seconds after Campbell reportedly said “Hello Dan, who are you looking for?”, Duggan responded and then an unidentified noise is heard.
He tried to make contact with other underground, but all intercom and phone communications were lost, along with mine power and gas monitoring equipment.
Duggan’s call to emergency services was also played at the commission.
He has been found in no way responsible for the incident.
During the commission the former CEO of the miner refused to take the stand.
As the investigation into the incident continues, PricewaterhouseCoopers is still looking for buyers of the mine.
While a number of miners are interested in acquiring New Zealand’s Pike River Coal mine, the possibility of strict safety measures and recovering dead miners has put off some investors.
PricewaterhouseCoopers told Radio New Zealand buyers would probably be offering a small upfront payment for the mine, with larger payments coming after certain conditions were met.
PwC said the New Zealand Royal Commission into the Pike River disaster may still demand tough new safety upgrades to the project.
The commission continues today.