Call for scrutiny of Pike River management in Australia

QUEENSLAND ventilation and safety expert Stuart Vaccaneo has called for personnel with Australian mine manager’s certificates who were involved in New Zealand’s Pike River tragedy, in which 29 miners died, to “show cause” for being allowed to operate in Australia.
Call for scrutiny of Pike River management in Australia Call for scrutiny of Pike River management in Australia Call for scrutiny of Pike River management in Australia Call for scrutiny of Pike River management in Australia Call for scrutiny of Pike River management in Australia

Pike's ventilation shaft after the deadly explosion.

Lou Caruana

The findings of the Royal Commission on the Pike River tragedy also needed careful consideration by the general public and the regulatory bodies, he told ILN.

Vaccaneo said a large number of senior management at the Pike River mine obtained their recognised competencies as mine managers and other statutory positions under Queensland and New South Wales legislation and had been working in the Australian industry.

“What is the reason that these people, trained and assessed as competent to control and operate a coal mine and having been issued certificates to do so by Queensland and NSW mining regulators, blatantly did not apply anything within a bull’s roar of their skills and knowledge?” he said.

“Is the reason that since Queensland legislation did not apply that they could get away with whatever they or their superiors wanted or thought they could get away with?

“If so – or not, given the findings – is it acceptable that many of these same individuals identified are now back in Australia actively engaged in the management of underground coal mines?”

Vaccaneo said the question needed to be asked as to why mine personnel with serious adverse findings from the Royal Commission continued to be allowed to manage Australian coal mines without any inquiry.

“Unfortunately it appears that due to a frankly ridiculous situation, the mining regulators in Australia are not even entitled to issue the individuals a ‘show cause’ letter why they should retain the mine manager’s certificates,” he said.

Vaccaneo is a consultant for coal mine ventilation, safety and health management systems and statutory officials’ training.

Prior to which he spent seven years as the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union industry safety and health representative.

“I find it extremely disturbing that little or no informed discussion has taken place into the horrendous findings of the Pike River mine disaster Royal Commission,” he said.

“For those with knowledge of underground coal mining, the facts the Royal Commission found are quite frankly unbelievable in this day and age.

“Especially given the disaster occurred only as far away as New Zealand and two Australians were amongst killed in this arguably criminally negligently managed mine.

“How this mine was allowed to be designed, constructed and operated the way it was is quite unbelievable.”

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