17 Feb 2012

Mine closed for safety reasons to stay open for tourists

7:34 pm on 17 February 2012

The owner of a Coromandel mine says he intends to keep taking visitors through its workings as a tourist attraction, despite being shut down by the Department of Labour.

The department has named the mine closed by its recently formed High Hazards Unit as Broken Hills, a small underground gold mine in Coromandel.

The High Hazards Unit was established after a review last year of the way the department dealt with the Pike River Mine.

Acting chief mines inspector Gavin Taylor says Broken Hills was issued a notice explaining how it was failing to meet safety standards but a subsequent inspection in January found it was still not meeting those standards, so it was shut down.

Owner Stuart Rabone says the mine was closed because he would not install a secondary exit.

Mr Rabone told Checkpoint he had already decided to stop mining operations for financial and personal health reasons.

However, he says the mine can still be used as a tourist attraction because the Department of Labour regulations only relate to employees, not members of the public.

Mr Rabone says the mine is in hard rock with no dangerous gasses and has an exemplary safety record.