Mine fire halts Waihi operations as inquiries start
Newmont Waihi Gold's operations are on hold until further notice after a fire in its underground mine that initially trapped 28 men.
All men were rescued before midday.
There were concerns about one miner, who was thought to have suffered from smoke inhalation, but company spokeswoman Linda Willoughby said: "I believe he's fine.
"All 28 men are alive and well."
She told NBR ONLINE the company is launching its own investigation into the fire, which began in a truck engine at 5am, forcing miners into refuge chambers fitted with breathing apparatus.
The Department of Labour will also investigate.
"Operations are on hold until further notice," Mrs Willoughby says.
She did not know if mining would be halted on the site for days or weeks.
A statement from the company this afternoon said three rescue teams, each with six members, evacuated their miners, while police and NZ Fire Service were on standby.
General manager Glen Grindlay says he was pleased with the rescue operation.
"We constantly practice these scenarios, we have the equipment and we have skilled and trained mines rescue teams. Our mine follows both New Zealand and Australian mining regulations and standards.
"Our systems worked well and everyone is safe."
Meanwhile, listed company OceanaGold Corporation, the operator of New Zealand's largest gold mine, the Macraes mine in Otago, announced today one of its employees, a Filipino man, had died at its Didipio mine in northern Philippines after a severe storm.
The company is investigating.
Some miners trapped for almost seven hours
Newmont Waihi Gold says it had three rescue teams on-site this morning, with one underground at 10.30am, while offers of assistance had come from NZ Mines Rescue and Solid Energy.
All operations at the mine ceased during the emergency, but it is not yet known how this morning's fire will affect production.
"We have been notifying families and the local community since early this morning," the Newmont's statement said.
A statement from the company at 8am says a truck engine fire was report at the trio underground mine at 5am.
"As per procedure all underground personnel went to refuge chambers and reported by phone to surface.
"All personnel have been accounted for.
"As a result of the fire there is some smoke coming out of the mine’s vent shaft on Union Hill.
"The trio mine is a hardrock gold mine and there is no risk of a mine explosion.
Mine company won safety award in 2009
Newmont Waihi Gold is owned by US-based giant Newmont Mining Corporation.
In 2009, the company received the Accident Compensation Commission's workplace safety award at the Westpac Waikato business excellence awards.
The company's website says the three-vein trio project, under Union Hill, will employ 700 direct and indirect staff and contractors until the end of 2014.
Construction of two development drives, 590m and 790m in length, began in 2010, the website says.
The trio project is expected to produce approximately 200,000 ounces of gold.
A Newmont press release in 2010 said it is drilling in areas of Crown-owned land, administered by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
The company says it holds an exploration permit, resource consents with the relevant regulatory authorities and access arrangements with both LINZ and Matariki Forests, which holds a Crown Forest Licence, to carry out prospecting activities and exploration drilling.
Last year, the company announced a new exploration programme could extend gold mining at the Coromandel town until 2020 and beyond.
Earlier this year, there were questions raised in Parliament about Newmont's royalty payments.