9 February 2016
‘New material’ in Pike disaster book

A BOOK by an award-winning Christchurch-based journalist on “how and why” the Pike River mine disaster occurred will be released on November 11.

Image courtesy of AWA Press.

Simply titled Tragedy at Pike River Mine, publisher AWA Press said it provided a dramatic, suspenseful account of the disaster that claimed 29 lives.

“Pike River was no ordinary mine,” AWA Press said.

“It had been touted by the company and by government ministers as a showcase of modern mining.

“Shares in the company had been rapidly taken up by investors, swept away by predictions of extraordinary returns.

“Beneath the hype, though, lay mismanagement, mistakes and wilful blindness that would cost men their lives.

“Based on extensive research and over a hundred interviews, this powerful book provides chilling insights into the causes of the tragedy and puts a human face on the people who suffered and suffer still.”

While the lengthy Royal Commission into the disaster provided a lot of information, author Rebecca Macfie claims to have discovered new material.

According to Fuseworks Media, she said her aim was “to make the Pike story understandable to a wide audience”.

“Readers will learn of an appalling string of mistakes, from consent being given for the mine in the first place, to lack of proper monitoring equipment, pressure to ignore safety requirements and effectively only a single exit,” Fuseworks said.

“At its heart, Pike is a story of corporate failure and delusion, accompanied by lax government supervision – but it is the human stories that will linger longest in the mind.”

Macfie is a senior writer for the 1939-founded New Zealand Listener magazine and she has also written for a variety of New Zealand press including National Business Review and the NZ Herald.

A staged re-entry to journey about 2.3km into the mine could start in early October, with the New Zealand government agreeing to fund about $NZ7.2 million into this exercise earlier this month.

“We have to be satisfied that the mine atmosphere can be effectively managed before we let anyone back into the tunnel,” Solid Energy chairman Mark Ford said at the time.

Solid acquired Pike River Coal’s assets in 2012.

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