Thursday, November 25, 2010

GUEST POST: Why Wasn't Pike River Mine Open Cast? [update 3]

_MarkHubbard Mark Hubbard says* what many of us are thinking about the tragedy at Pike River.

I feel empathy for the family and friends who the perished miners leave behind.. I do not feel grief though, for the same reason I feel no personal grief for the millions of young men who died in the last two world wars: I knew none of them personally, as I knew none of these men. There have been far too many plastic tears in the reporting of this disaster…

Many involved acquitted themselves well—one man especially for whom I have acquired enormous respect: that man is Peter Whittall. It’s no accident this great man has risen from miner to CEO. If you want a case study in competence, communication and simply being ‘human,’ then use Mr Whittall as your example. His bearing in the media exudes a morality and sensibility of man qua man.

And despite the flak they’ve taken, I also think the police acquitted themselves well—and as Lindsay Perigo observes, the second explosion has shown their prudence was well-founded.

But for me the police made one error. I think Stephen Franks was right. If I am a free man, then that includes the freedom to die nobly, or stupidly (take your pick)… If men wanted to go into this mine to rescue their loved ones, as irrational and ill-advised as that would have been (and presuming that would not itself risk a second explosion), that was still their prerogative. If the police did physically stop this (some comments from the grieving relatives would indicate this, but it is merely supposition on my behalf), then the police were beyond the mandate a free society should have given them.

These are hard questions emotionally, but they are also very simple…

So to the even simpler issue of where my anger truly lies.

Open-Cast This mine increased the standards of living of us all via the mechanism of free markets and wealth creation. So should it exist? Yes. Of course. The mine however was known in the industry for being ‘gassy’: that is, the coal seam released a lot of methane as it was mined, which is dangerous, despite its being a 'wet mine': this fact caused problems and cost overruns throughout its development, especially around the ventilation system (cost overrun $7 million just on that). Was there a way to reduce the danger of a ‘gassy’ mine to the workers who took out the coal? Yes – an open-cast mine would have held none of the risks of this mine, for the methane would have dissipated immediately without enclosed spaces in which to build up.

So, why was Pike River not an open-cast mine? Answer: the bureaucrats in DOC who place a higher value on a tree, than on human beings, insisted it couldn’t be.

It is significant that DOC have felt needed to put out their own press release they disclaiming any responsibility. But their very own press release damns every bureaucrat involved:

_Quote_Idiot Environmental concerns did not compromise safety at the Pike River mine, Conservation Department director-general Al Morrison says. "We set stringent conditions and they met them to the extent that we gave them a conservation award."  [Emphasis mine.]

And:

_Quote_Idiot"The Pike River mine had to navigate sensitive environmental challenges above the ground, as well as difficult geology below … The company has an access agreement with DOC. Once mining has finished, all evidence of the project has to be removed, such as buildings, bridges and powerlines. Pike River Coal has spent millions of dollars to meet environmental guidelines. It recycles water, has kept its surface features to a minimum and has zig-zagged powerlines and roads around ancient rimu trees."  [Emphasis mine.]

And, the truly damning part:

_Quote_Idiot"New Zealand has an opportunity to be a world leader in developing `green mines'. Our mine at Pike River proves that it can be done. It was likely any new mines would be underground. In such cases the surface impact is small, the infrastructure is removed at the end of mining and the small areas affected are restored. On the small areas affected, trees grow back."  [Emphasis mine.]

Well now we know what a green mine does: it kills humans.

Killers So, under DOC’s watch, under the Gaia-worshipping eyes of the bureaucrats, open-cast mines will never occur in NZ, and they weren’t even an option for Pike River. Yet if Pike River had been an open-cast mine, all 29 of these miners would still be alive.

That’s where your real anger should be directed, and that’s what any “inquiry” should skewer.

* * * *

* Excerpted, and cleaned up slightly from his SOLO press release this morning.

UPDATE 1: UPDATE: You can donate to the Mayoral Relief Fund for the families of the victims at Give A Little.  [Hat tip Kiwiblog]

UPDATE 2: Here’s a very helpful science blog posting on the intrinsic dangers of coal mining, where explosions are always waiting to happen [hat tip Moira Fraser]:  http://bit.ly/eSv0pp

UPDATE 3: Chris Trotter (yes, Chris Trotter) pays beautiful poetic tribute to the twenty-nine

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55 Comments:

Anonymous Global Cooling said...

Ian Wishart @ "The Briefing Room" blog has got some good posts on this mining accident.

11/25/2010 08:53:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"Judge" Holden is banned.

And any other people commenting n this: please treat the subject(s) respectfully.

11/25/2010 09:18:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Wishart was arguing for rescue teams to blunder in. As the post above says, the decision not to was vindicated by that tragic second explosion.

11/25/2010 09:22:00 am  
Blogger Owen McShane said...

A client has been trying to negotiate access to a gold tenement for 13 years. Safety requires that any digger be at least 20 tonne rated. (what I use in my garden work) but DoC insists on only six tonne rating.
HEre is a paragraph from DoC:

(iv) safety: In terms of safety while it is worth noting the various letters from excavator outlets attached to the email dated 9 July 2010, the Department comments that the safe use of an excavator is a consideration of the operator under HSE legislation and is not a relevant factor to be considered here under any access arrangement application. In addition, Mr Gardner also wishes any agreement for access to have the flexibility to allow the potential use of 2 excavators over 20 tonnes to have another machine on hand in case a safety issue arises (refer letter dated 8 July 2010). The use of a 2nd excavator would double the amount of impacts due to access tracking in terms of soil compaction and is not considered acceptable to the Department in this area as the operations would not be considered to be as minimal impact as possible.

11/25/2010 09:35:00 am  
Blogger twr said...

""Judge" Holden is banned."

Hooray.

the decision not to was vindicated by that tragic second explosion.

Yesterday showed that "blundering in" would have been a whole lot safer earlier on than it was after all the procrastinating.

11/25/2010 10:31:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

@TWR: How so?

11/25/2010 10:40:00 am  
Anonymous Murray said...

what are your qulifications in mining and mine rescue twr?

11/25/2010 11:13:00 am  
Anonymous Kurt said...

Judge Holden is also banned at No Minister. He hardly debated anything on the blogosphere. All he does is taking snide comments about others, which is equivalent to trolling.

11/25/2010 01:47:00 pm  
Anonymous MacDoctor said...

Unfortunately, Mark, it is much worse than you portray. While an open-cast mine is undoubtably uglier than a side-shaft mine, it does not require a great deal of extra effort to restore the damaged environment. The cost difference between the two mines would have been more than enough to cover the extra cost involved. Most modern open-cast mines have a detailed plan to restore the environment and the eventual impact is minimal.

I therefore come to the sad conclusion that 29 miners have just died, not for the sake of the environment, because of aesthetics.

Disclosure: The MacDoctor worked for a coal mine in Botswana and was heavily involved in mine safety...

11/25/2010 02:23:00 pm  
Anonymous MacDoctor said...

@TWR

While some experts were talking about a short window after the accident in which someone could have entered the mine, they were only talking in terms of methane build up. After the explosion has burnt through all the methane there is a space of 4-6 hours in which methane is at "safe" levels. This observation, of course, ignores the lethal build up of carbon monoxide, the need for special respirators and the possibility of cave-in and underground fires. In also ignores the fact that methane build up after an explosion is dangerously unpredictable, as collapse of methane-bearing coal can occur. The "window" therefore was not safe in any normal sense of the word.

I note that the distance to the first cross cut at pike river is a very long 1200m and that the miners were over 2km in. It would have been practically impossible for a rescue crew to get to them in the "safe" window, even if the crew had been waiting, ready to go, at the time of the explosion.

11/25/2010 02:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

MacDoctor: would you mind if I cross posted your first post here across to the original thread on SOLO?

Great anecdote Owen.

Thanks for comments everyone (other than Judge Holden, of course).

11/25/2010 05:40:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

My observation was merely that the mine did not get safer as time went on, and indeed appeared to get less so with each passing day due to a continuing build up of methane.

Thank-you Macdoctor for the further info.

Murray, presumably you do have all sorts of "qualifications" on this subject, so it's a shame you weren't there instead of the policeman in charge who clearly had none.

11/25/2010 11:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Simon said...

October 11, 1997

NZOG moving ahead on Pike River coal field

New Zealand Oil and gas expects to receive a mining permit this year for the Pike River coal field north east of Greymouth

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-17302180.html

12 March, 2004

"Conservation Minister Chris Carter has approved in principle an application for an access arrangement from the Pike River Coal Company to mine the coal deposits in the Pike River catchment on the West Coast."

HTTP://WWW.BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ/NODE/19189

27 NOVEMBER, 2008
Gerry Brownlee

Pike River coal mine officially opened today

HTTP://WWW.BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ/RELEASE/PIKE+RIVER+COAL+MINE+OFFICIALLY+OPENED+TODAY

Don’t have time to this properly but this probably making Pike River Coal the one of most drawn out regulated business project in NZ. Government (& stakeholder) oversight in Pike River Coal was overwhelming.

At least 12 years to get it right for the blue duck and other asorted lots of crap.

"Pike River is pleased to report evidence that its pest and predator programme is creating a safer environment for blue duck (whio)"

http://www.abnnewswire.net/press/en/63424/

FFS

Also pre dating 1997 the talk was side shaft not open cast. 3 changes of government. (more if you count the mix of parties in govt but the bureaucrats remain.)

11/26/2010 07:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An open cast mine through 200 metres of solid rock? That doesn't sound feasible, let alone economic. This was nothing to do with the green lobby. Nice work exploiting these men's deaths to make a political point though. I hope you feel good about yourself.

11/26/2010 09:29:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

9.29am.

Try learning the facts before jumping to conclusions. An open cast mine was certainly an option for Pike River.

From: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4376802/Mines-gas-made-me-sick-worker

Quoting (and note the highlights I've done of Andrew Little's comments):

The miner said Pike mine had been dealing properly with its methane gas problems, but the mine needed more monitoring. Each team of miners had a set of gas monitoring gear between them.

"The deputies are walking around and testing, but we never got told of what the levels were...that gas, you can't smell it."

He knew some of the 29 trapped men and rated their chances of survival as "not very good".

He believes Pike has a future as an opencast rather than an underground mine.

"I think it'll be a different sort of mine - take the top off the hill, it's not that far down..." he said.

"They can still use the system they've got to get the coal off, even if they take the top off. And that will let the gas out."


Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) national secretary Andrew Little said he had never heard of any Pike mineworker becoming sick from the gas.

"I was told there was a pretty active health and safety committee there. They were meeting on a regular basis," he said.

He would not be averse to the mine becoming open cast, but said that would have to be a political decision. Pike had gone underground to avoid harming conservation land.

"The health and safety risks for an opencast mine are completely different to an undergound mine. There are just inherent risks to an underground mine because you're dealing with confined spaces.

"If it's about keeping miners in jobs you would want to look at all alternatives...but equally we can't ignore the conservation aspect and the schedule four status of the land and things like that, which is why it comes down to a political decision ultimately."

11/26/2010 09:44:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

And how is stating these deaths did not need to happen exploiting these men?

11/26/2010 09:46:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Dropped a post somewhere.

9.29am, I've done my homework, you've not. Open cast was a possibility, but not a politically acceptable one.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4376802/Mines-gas-made-me-sick-worker

Quoting:

The miner said Pike mine had been dealing properly with its methane gas problems, but the mine needed more monitoring. Each team of miners had a set of gas monitoring gear between them.

"The deputies are walking around and testing, but we never got told of what the levels were...that gas, you can't smell it."

He knew some of the 29 trapped men and rated their chances of survival as "not very good".

He believes Pike has a future as an opencast rather than an underground mine.

"I think it'll be a different sort of mine - take the top off the hill, it's not that far down..." he said.

"They can still use the system they've got to get the coal off, even if they take the top off. And that will let the gas out."


Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) national secretary Andrew Little said he had never heard of any Pike mineworker becoming sick from the gas.

"I was told there was a pretty active health and safety committee there. They were meeting on a regular basis," he said.

He would not be averse to the mine becoming open cast, but said that would have to be a political decision. Pike had gone underground to avoid harming conservation land.

"The health and safety risks for an opencast mine are completely different to an undergound mine. There are just inherent risks to an underground mine because you're dealing with confined spaces.

"If it's about keeping miners in jobs you would want to look at all alternatives...but equally we can't ignore the conservation aspect and the schedule four status of the land and things like that, which is why it comes down to a political decision ultimately."

11/26/2010 09:49:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

I have twice posted the rebuttal to 9.29am, but for some reason it's not sticking. Perhaps it was too long, so I'll just give the link.

Read: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4376802/Mines-gas-made-me-sick-worker

Open cast was and is certainly an option for Pike River, but as Andrew Little states, is not an option politically, because of the environmental issues. What a disaster in every respect.

11/26/2010 10:09:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The drift of what I posted over on KB nder "GK"

The only reason Pike was not able to open cast was political. It's DoC land. Coasters would take knocking the top off 50 acres of hill as a mere challenge to machinery and mind. The only mining Greens like is the sort carried out by the Seven Dwarves.--and that only after a Environment Impact Report on the their long-drop. Their idea is to turn mine sites into visitor information sites. Old photos of what happened where men once strived profitably.

George

11/27/2010 01:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall on Close Up on Friday, "There are some parts of the mine that are 500 and 600 metres below ground. You would never open cast this coal deposit. If you can't underground mine it, you wouldn't take it."

You're wrong and you're ignorant. Sorry to break it to you.

11/27/2010 01:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't waste your sorrows.

Some parts

others 90 120m. Dipping measures. High rank coal should be mined from above.

11/27/2010 01:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might have had a reasonable argument if you had suggested that the Pike River extractive mine was established because possible open-cast mines were blocked. That may be the case; I don't know enough about it. However, I think this was more to do with the amount and quality of coal in that seam and the only economically viable method of extracting it. Open cast mines only exist in certain fortuitous situations where there are large deposits close to the surface, like Stockton (where conservation groups and the industry have worked well together). Such deposits are the first to be mined; we're now on to the harder-to-reach stuff. Pike River is a long seam underneath a lot of solid rock.

It would only have taken a few minutes of research to establish these facts and you might have come across as something other than ill-informed. To me, it just sounds like you're exploiting this disaster to validate (erroneously) your political views. That's pretty low. Shameless even.

11/27/2010 01:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some parts, others 90 120m. Dipping measures. High rank coal should be mined from above."

Sorry, I'll take the Pike River CEO's opinion on this one, thanks: "You would never open cast this coal deposit."

End of discussion.

11/27/2010 01:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

500m is not that deep I have seen t he depth of the super pit in Kalgoorlie, and it stored adequately the pike field could be refilled using the same equipment that extracted the non coal containing rubble, but what would be more usful would be to then turn the site into a Hydro electric dam and thus give the west coast a further renewable energy source, reduce flooding risks, and give the ducks somewhere new to swim and breed from.

11/27/2010 01:44:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

darn thing lost a bit of my message....
should have said ...Kalgoorlie, and it is a lot deeper than 500m. Depending on the width of the coal seam you might be able to get a turning bay and digging platform into the site, then sort the coal and non coal rubble into piles on the adjacent non DoC land, thus allowing on completion of coal extraction for the stored rubble.....

11/27/2010 01:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always a joy to terminate a discussion with someone whose replies have the imperious whiff of a DoC consents officer.

Peter Withall is a good man. He faces public inquiry into his company's responsibilities. The company has or will be filing an insurance claim for a 100 big ones. His utterances will be examined for anything that hints of anything less than best practice.

My background information comes from a mine operator currently part of our household. He refuses to go down as part of the mine crew. Same formation, same risks. He is adamant that unless you can extract that coal type under an open atmosphere it should stay in the ground unless you want grief and the Grey to be forever linked.

George

11/27/2010 05:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Hubbard from an associate at sharetrader:

"If you'd like more $$$ and not happy about the 'greenies' or the fact that 'we're sliding down the ladder' or 'falling behind', might be best to move somewhere else, like Australia, lovely place, don't need to worry about the environment over there, it's mostly desert anyway, no problems with digging up all and sundry.

But did I mention the $$$!" - Mr Devine

11/27/2010 06:46:00 pm  
Blogger Shunda barunda said...

Finally, I have to agree with Mark Hubbard (also cross-posted to NotPC) who is of the opinion that environmentalism has a large part to play in the deaths of these men. Much of the coal at Pike River is superficial enough to remove by open cast mine, a far safer proposition for methane-rich coal like this.

As someone who lost friends in this disaster and also worked on the site I find this an absolutely appalling opinion.
This sort of uninformed arrogance is making this issue far more muddled than it needs to be.
For your information open cast was never a serious option, the coal is to deep, the rock is to hard, and the access is to difficult.
Pike River management issued a statement in the Greymouth evening star yesterday reiterating these facts.
Do some bloody research before blaming "the greenies" anything else is dishonouring the dead in a most despicable way.

11/28/2010 11:27:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Mmm. Let me dig a deeper hole.

One of the problems that I see with society at the moment, is also umbrage taking: looking for something to take offence at as a type of emotional bullying to close down debate.

I said very clearly at the beginning of the article I had full empathy for the families involved, including the above poster, obviously, only a monster would not.

I said one of the heroes out of this was the Pike River CEO for the competent and sensitive way in which he responded to the crisis.

Unlike many, I also made the point that I believe the police were right in this instance, indeed, have been proven to be so, and did not deserve the flak they’ve been taking.

But I also said I know no one involved, and this issue does have some interesting issues devolving from it. My main intention when writing it was in respect of the point made in the first part of the piece: that is, there was some conjecture that rescuers were held back – being careful to point out this was not substantiate, however, if so, then in a free society it would not have been the job of the police to stop them (advise them their actions were stupid, certainly, but if they were knowing, consenting adults, then so long as they harm no other, their actions are their choice).

A free society can exist in no other way. I was making that philosophical point.

By the time I got to that, however, there were a number of interviews with miners, such as the one quoted, that pointed to the possibility of this mine being opencast: I was entitled to take them at face value – though if wrong in the case of Pike River, I regret that. But there was another point I was making by way of this for which I need not apologise: much of NZ’s mineral wealth can be safely mined on an opencast basis, and the living standards of all Kiwis could be improved by this. But will it happen? No. Green politics will not let it, most particularly on the DOC estate. This was proven in the recent ‘uninformed’ protests that have essentially closed the mining debate down in NZ completely, for which we are all the poorer.

My point was how environmysticism is denying us all a greater quality of living, and that is a point worthy of someone not directly involved in this - able to look at the issues dispassionately - making.

As to this mine, I could argue – though I won’t – that the CEO’s interview on this was a little confusing, for he started ‘that sentence’ saying it was a shallow mine, but all this is now for the inquiries that will follow. I will only point out there seem to be a number of contradictions coming from mine management, the main one being, in 2010, according to mining experts I have also heard – particularly one from the US - every mine should be safe, there’s no excuse not to be. Well, this mine was tragically not safe.

But for any readers likely to get offended by an individual making a point, I suggest you read to the bit in the first paragraph where I state I have full empathy for the families: then stop reading at that point. If you want some personal advice, if you are grieving, then the Internet is not a prudent place to be, especially the blogosphere; I certainly wouldn’t be here. But as to my opinion piece, this was me making points important to myself about the nature of a free and prosperous capitalist society, and umbrage taking should not obscure these.

Now this further point made, I am going to keep, on this issue, a respectful silence from this point.

11/28/2010 01:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

For some reason Peter, longer posts are not going up.

Please note, I have replied to Shunda - respecfully - on the below link:

http://www.solopassion.com/node/8151#comment-93649

11/28/2010 01:17:00 pm  
Blogger Shunda barunda said...

Mark, I am not trying to bully you emotionally, I am trying to bring some reality into this catastrophic balls up.
Blaming greenies is absurd, to take that line you are in fact falling to the same manipulation and victimising tactics of some on the left.

11/28/2010 02:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Breaking 'respectful silence'. Shundra, again, that was not my direct point, as I've stated in my umbrage post.

Only the inquiries to come will finally resolve the immediate cause of this: ultimately it's at the feet of management, for there is that contradiction at the heart of this that this was a 'no harm' mine. Obviously it wasn't, so if management was so wrong on that ...

But going outside of 'immediate' causes, is it so 'absurd' to blame environmysticism?

The Green movement have closed down a vital part of the Coast's forestry industry, seeing some of the final family milling operations go to the wall. That's as irrefutable as the harm done to the forestry industry was uninformed and economically crippling for the Coast. This shows the political strength of environmysticism in our politics, and what clout it therefore must have over mining as well.

Now into an area I enter with trepidation, again, because there are so many unknowns.

From the quotes in this article I gave, from the hubaloo we all witnessed when this government talked of mining the DOC estate, it seems obvious that it is politically unacceptable that any opencast mining will be allowed to occur (actually, any new mines at all): do you agree with that statement?

Taking this further, is it possible that instead of going after easy coal deposits on the West Coast via opencast, which would never have gotten through, the options were thus only to go after deep coal, such as Pike River instead, with its concomitant dangers?

I don't know. I'd be very interested in comments on the logic of that from those that do. And if the CEO is correct, opencast was not an option for Pike River for economic reasons (not environmysticism and noting in that speech he was at pain still to point out the importance of 'environmental issues'), then it appears we can't take the opinions of miners on this topic either - as I have found to my peril.

11/28/2010 03:33:00 pm  
Blogger Sam P said...

Mark

your logic is sound. Mining has been driven underground due to enviromysticism. Why are easier deposits suitable to opencast not mined? Uneconomical? Nope. Availability and interest of local labour? Nope. Demand for the product? Nope. Companies unwilling to invest? Nope. State permission not available due to enviromystic sensitivities? Check.

This will not probably be outside the terms of reference of any enquiry, but it is the bigger issue with respect to the future.

11/28/2010 05:54:00 pm  
Blogger Shunda barunda said...

His argument is not sound, especially for the Paparoa coal seams.
This coal has been mined primarily underground well before your "enviromystics" came to the fore.
If you guys are so concerned about the unsafe nature of underground mining you should lobby government to ban it.

11/28/2010 06:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

As a good friend has just pointed out to me, Shunda, even were it proved that River Pike could be mined more safely as opencast, or any other mine be given the go-ahead on that basis, then it wouldn't get past go, for the invalid reasons given by environmysticism. And I'm sure you know that. That's a point that needs to be made over and over circa 2010.

Saying so is not disrespecting anybody. Libertarians, more than anyone, want the West Coast to thrive on the resources and minerals it has: in regards to forestry and mining, the true situation couldn't be further from the truth due to environmysticism which is choking the economic life of the West Coast back into the pre-industrial age.

And now I am done.

11/28/2010 07:02:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

"Why was Pike River not an open-cast mine? Answer: the bureaucrats in DOC who place a higher value on a tree, than on human beings, insisted it couldn’t be."

[citation needed]

Do you have anything to back up this assertion? Or did you just pull this "fact" out of thin air? I cannot find any reference to an application to open-cast mine at Pike River being rejected by DOC.

11/29/2010 01:04:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

James, try reading my posts to this thread before you decide to get yourself all offended as well.

Regarding the issue itself, I'm currently listening to Leighton Smiths show, Monday morning, and he has just read out an email from a miner who again states open cast mining would be suitable for Pike River.

So, none of this changes the points I was making in my piece, not one bit, but it is now getting more and more interesting in relation to this particular mine: who is right? Taking away 'environmental issues', is it economically feasible to opencast Pike River? Could someone post a definitive link to the scence/economic feasibility?

11/29/2010 09:17:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Interesting. A man is currently talking to Leighton whose father was involved in the set up of this mine. His father did not want this coal seam included in the conservation estate, as otherwise it could have had a much shorter entrance rather than the 2.5 kilometre tunnel - the rifle barrel as the CEO has called it. This would have allowed, according to the interviewee, much more money that could have been spent on ventilation, etc.

He did indicate that he thought the seam may be too deep for opencast, though on that he wasn't sure.

I hope the inquiries to come cover these issues, so the Royal Commission will need to be broadly scoped.

11/29/2010 09:25:00 am  
Blogger Shunda barunda said...

Hey Mark, my father was involved in the set up of the mine as well, worked with Peter Whittall every day for 2 years.
Why do you think because someone calls themselves a 'miner' that somehow that immediately makes them an expert on geology, engineering, or mining logistics?
This 'miner' obviously knows something Pike management don't, but in reality probably just another red neck idiot.
You listening to talkback radio for your info brings this thread right back into perspective.

11/29/2010 11:36:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

What's your opinion about the length of the opening tunnel comment then Shunda?

(And yeah, everyone takes a shot at talk back, but the noise ratio is probably no different to the blogosphere: just assess each call on its merits ... so again, the merits of that comment on the length in your opinion?)

... Also, I'd still be interested in your comments to my post at 11/28/2010 03:33:00 PM (above Sam P).

11/29/2010 11:43:00 am  
Blogger Shunda barunda said...

My opinion on tunnel length is the same as Pike management, a longer tunnel was preferable to a longer access road as it was more cost effective over the life of the mine.
There is no way that a longer tunnel would have anything to do with reduced safety, you need to get a map of the area and see how rugged the country is.

11/29/2010 12:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Fair enough. Finally, then, my comments at 11/28/2010 03:33:00 PM (above Sam P)?

11/29/2010 12:08:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

"Why was Pike River not an open-cast mine? Answer: the bureaucrats in DOC who place a higher value on a tree, than on human beings, insisted it couldn’t be."

I'm still waiting to hear about your source for this claim. You dodged the question when you replied previously. What's your basis for making that assertion? When was there an application to open-cast mine at Pike River that was rejected by DOC?

11/30/2010 09:11:00 am  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

James, as the thread has worked it's way through, I have explained how the piece came about, and what the purpose of it is: which is largely unaltered.

Now if you can get over your petulance for a minute, and I suspect this will be difficult for you, please read my 'umbrage taking' post at 11/28/2010 01:11:00 PM.

11/30/2010 11:40:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

Still dodging the question? I take it that's your way of saying you just made it up. That's all I wanted to know. Cheers.

Asking for a citation/source is not taking umbrage (but you know that). I'm sorry the facts got in the way of your good story.

11/30/2010 04:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

And by the by, I still don't understand why Shunda has not been backward in coming forward here, other than in respect of giving an opinion on my post at 11/28/2010 03:33:00 PM ?

11/30/2010 04:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

I have explained the evolution of the piece James, and that doesn't change the points of was making, regardless. I regret the one wrong fact, because based, as it pans out, on uninformed sources, however, that one wrong fact doesn't change the validity of the message, and I have no apologies for that.

After that point is given, on the full facts subsequently becoming known - and I gave the point some way up this thread - then your petulence here has most certainly been umbrage taking. Move on.

No. Tell you what, if you really want to froth yourself up into an orgy of offence, try reading Cactus Kate's post on the topic - but take your meds first:

http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.com/2010/11/week-in-new-zealand.html

And she is perfectly right about what I have referred to as 'plastic tears' from those not involved in this directly. (But to those involved directly, such as Shunda, I have said I have empathy, and have tried to be as respectful as I can, but without losing getting my point-s across.)

11/30/2010 04:15:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

@James, if I decide to build a 2-car carport on my front lawn instead of my preferred four-garage around the back--simply because the 2-car carport is all the council's District Plan allows me--are you suggesting that the bureaucrats and their District Plan have nothing to do with my decision?

Because that's the implication of what you're saying above.

11/30/2010 04:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just answer James' question instead of being intellectually dishonest and ducking and diving.

Did Pike apply for open cast and were they declined approval because of 'greenies' and DOC?

11/30/2010 08:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Read my posts. It is answered 'James'; oh sorry, Mr Anonymous. You have no point to prove here.

11/30/2010 08:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

And by the way, you completely missed PC's valid point, which was also one of the main points I was making.

11/30/2010 08:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just answer James' question instead of being intellectually dishonest and ducking and diving.

PC's post illustrates the point clearly. go back and read it and stop pretending like nobody answered the question

12/01/2010 09:33:00 am  
Anonymous RRM said...

For goodness' sake. CEO Whittle himself said the mine was underground because opencast was not economically or technically feasible at that site.

Not because of demon psychopath greenies.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pike-river-2010/62883/families-shown-video-of-flames-coming-from-mine

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall says open-casting mining at the site was never feasible because of the depth of the coal seam and the terrain.

It has been suggested that if Pike River had been an open-cast mine, the lives of miners would not have been at risk.

Mr Whittall says the seams are between 110 and 700 metres below the surface, because the size of the mountains above the seam changes.

Even if the mine was not under conservation land, he says, engineering issues would rule out an open-cast operation.

12/02/2010 06:02:00 pm  
Anonymous RRM said...

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall says open-casting mining at the site was never feasible because of the depth of the coal seam and the terrain.

It has been suggested that if Pike River had been an open-cast mine, the lives of miners would not have been at risk.

Mr Whittall says the seams are between 110 and 700 metres below the surface, because the size of the mountains above the seam changes.

Even if the mine was not under conservation land, he says, engineering issues would rule out an open-cast operation.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pike-river-2010/62883/families-shown-video-of-flames-coming-from-mine

12/02/2010 06:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice effort to take people's grief and use it as your own agena against the greens..

Let's sk the really big quesion shall we?

Why are we still doing totally unsustainable business? GREED.

I will spell it again G R E E D

So boo hoo..some miners have to leave the coast,well they would have to once the coal is all used up anyway..all mined.

Opencast is disgusting...destroying NZ's clean green image because that's the only bargaining chip in international trade we have...IF we lose that we lose BILLIONS.

12/14/2010 11:15:00 pm  

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