More mines safety inspectors following Pike River

8:49 pm on 17 August 2011

The Government has announced more safety inspectors for the mining and petroleum sectors following the Pike River disaster.

The High Hazards Unit will have three inspectors and a chief inspector for each sector, along with three administrative and research support staff.

Last November, 29 men died in the Pike River mine and a Royal Commission into the tragedy is underway.


Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says Pike River was a catalyst for the Department of Labour to take a close look at what resources and expertise it has available to the mining sector.

Ms Wilkinson says the initial focus of the unit will be on the mining and petroleum industries, but it could be expanded in the future to take on other sectors if required.

She says the structure of the unit and resources dedicated to mining will be further informed by the findings of the Royal Commission on Pike River.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn says a government backdown on mine inspection is an acknowledgement the Pike River disaster would not have happened if the positions had not been abolished.

Mr Kokshoorn says there is a lot of pressure on miners and mining companies to turn a product and an independent eye on safety is needed.

He says anything is an improvement over the current system but he would like to see four rather than three inspectors.

West Coast-based Green MP Kevin Hague says the Government's backdown on mining safety has been a long time coming.

He says there are lives at stake every day in New Zealand mines and the Government has been slow to act.