Underground coal NEW ZEALAND


Appointed by a specialise recovery agency to facilitate risk assessments for the safe re-entry to an underground coal mine following a significant mining disaster.


A recovery agency was set up with the prime focus of safely re-entering and the recovering the mine drift following a significant underground coal mining disaster.

The purpose of this re-entry was to give closure to the families of the victims of the tragedy and to gather evidence to assist in ascertaining what occurred leading up to the event and to promote accountability and help to prevent future mining tragedies.

Palaris was engaged to advise on risk management processes to be utilised and facilitate these activities. The initial scope of work covered two risk management activities focused on ventilation arrangements and overall execution plan for re-entry. The engagement was extended to cover activities associated with breaching a plug to continue re-entry activities to the roof fall.


Palaris undertook the initial risk assessments in conjunction with the recovery agencies own personnel, local police and government bodies and other stakeholders in the primary workshop. In addition to providing the safety and risk facilitation expert, Palaris also provided its own underground coal mining specialist as subject matter expert to participate in the workshops. The assessments covered all aspects of the re-entry including remediation of the site upon completion.

For the initial stage of work the Hazard and Risk Analysis was conducted through the use of the Workplace Risk Assessment and Control (WRAC) technique. This tool allows for a structured and systematic technique for examining a defined system.

As part of the development of the re-entry plan, decision analysis methods and then risk assessment were conducted to ensure the activities could be performed safely. The decision analysis methods used included a formal decision analysis (KT). They were performed to identify the optimal option to take for three steps in the plug breach and exit process.


The identify controls were utilised to satisfy the regulators and secure the required exemptions for re-entry. The agency completed a re-entry, successfully reaching the roof fall of the mine.