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Why Wasn't Pike River Mine Open Cast? - Solo

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Why Wasn't Pike River Mine Open Cast? - Solo

By Mark Hubbard, SOLO

I feel empathy for the families and friends whom the perished miners leave behind; only a monster would have no such empathy. I do not feel grief though, for the same reason I feel no personal grief for the millions of young men who died in the last two world wars: I knew none of them personally, as I knew none of these men.

There have been far too many plastic tears in the reporting of this disaster. The suspension of Parliament is farcical - though for quite other reasons I wish they'd suspend themselves in perpetuity.

Following the coverage, many involved have acquitted themselves wellone man especially whom I have grown enormous respect for: that man is Peter Whittall. It's no accident this great man has risen from miner to CEO. If you want a case study in competency, how to communicate, and simply being 'human', then use Mr Whittall as a prime example. His behavour in the media exudes a morality and sensibility of man qua man.

I also think the police acquitted themselves well, despite the flack they've taken, with only one error. They took a reasoned approach, as I would have hoped they would, and as Lindsay Perigo states, the second explosion has shown their prudence was well-founded.

But for me there was that one error. I think Stepehn Franks was right. If I am a free man, then that includes the freedom to die nobly, or stupidly (take your pick). There can be no equivocation on this point.

If I don't want to wear a cycle helmet then, according to reason, I am stupid. But that's still my prerogative. So long as I am initiating force on no other, then I'm free to do as I want, includng dying stupidly; or, I am not a free man. The same tyrannous morality that stops me doing so, also stops me euthanising myself when I feel my quality of life has gone.

If men wanted to go into this mine to rescue their loved ones, as irrational and ill-advised as that would have been, that was still their prerogative. If the police did physically stop this, then the police were beyond the mandate a free society should have given them.

These are hard questions emotionally, but they are also very simple. (I don't know if people were stopped from going down the mine: some comments from the grieving relatives would indicate this, but it is merely supposition on my behalf. And it doesn't change the principle.)

So to the simpler issue of where my anger truly lies.

From my empathy for these men and their loved ones there is anger, and the anger is this. This mine can increase the standards of living of us all via the mechanism of free markets and wealth creation. So should it exist? Yes. The mine was known in the industry as 'gassy': that is, the coal seam released a lot of methane as it was mined, which is dangerous, despite its being a 'wet mine': this fact caused problems and cost overruns throughout its development, especially around the ventilation system (cost overrun $7 million just on that). Was there a way to reduce the danger of a 'gassy' mine to the workers who took out the coal? Yes - an open cast mine would have held none of the risks this mine held, for the methane would have dissipated immediately with no enclosed spaces to build up.

So, why was Pike River not an open cast mine? Answer: the bureaucrats in DOC who place a higher value on a tree, than on humanity, and certainly an individual human being.

It is significant that DOC have felt they needed to put out a press release disclaiming any responsibility:

But their very own press release damns all the bureaucrats involved. Quoting:

Environmental concerns did not compromise safety at the Pike River mine, Conservation Department director-general Al Morrison says. "We set stringent conditions and they met them to the extent that we gave them a conservation award."


"The Pike River mine had to navigate sensitive environmental challenges above the ground, as well as difficult geology below The company has an access agreement with DOC. Once mining has finished, all evidence of the project has to be removed, such as buildings, bridges and powerlines. Pike River Coal has spent millions of dollars to meet environmental guidelines. It recycles water, has kept its surface features to a minimum and has zig-zagged powerlines and roads around ancient rimu trees."

And, the truly damning part:

"New Zealand has an opportunity to be a world leader in developing `green mines'. Our mine at Pike River proves that it can be done. It was likely any new mines would be underground. In such cases the surface impact is small, the infrastructure is removed at the end of mining and the small areas affected are restored. On the small areas affected, trees grow back."

Well now we know what a green mine does: it kills humans.

So, under DOC's watch, under the Gaia-worshipping eyes of the bureaucrats, open cast mines will never occur in NZ, and the same wasn't an option for Pike River. Yet if Pike River had been an open cast mine, all 29 of these miners would still be alive.

Anger should be directed at that fact, which is also the reason why individual liberty is being destroyed, as New Zealand lurches further and further toward Nanny State tyranny: a planned economy built necessarily on the backs of our planned lives, of which this disaster becomes part. And remember the bright side: the trees and snails were all saved.

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