The Pike River Mine Disaster – Tony Forster

11 JANUARY@14:00 - 15:30
geology rock wall

The Pike River Mine Disaster – Tony Forster

11 January 2023 @ 14:00 - 15:30

Tony’s career took him from literally the coalface in Scotland to heading up the Mines Inspectorate in Wales and beyond to various consultancy roles abroad and becoming The Chief Inspector for Mines in Australia.

His talk today focused on his ten year involvement supporting the relatives of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the Pike River Mine disaster in 2010 in New Zealand. The saga has had many twists and turns in how the efforts to establish what really happened have been thwarted from the highest political levels through to missing items of evidence and a generally totally inadequate health and safety regime.

Two key aspects have been, and still are, to access the remains of a ventilation pump where the initial explosion apparently occurred [there were 3 subsequent ones too probably related to methane] and beyond that to recover the bodies of the miners. Extensive work got to within about 50 metres of both before being halted.

From a geological point of view Tony highlighted how the stress features in a mine can be handled and the extra strength that can be achieved by bolting up into strong sandstone layers if available as in this case. He also explained the risks of spontaneous combustion which probably explained the series of later explosions in Pike River.

To learn what happened and see things through the eyes of an engineer with a key role to play in the investigations was quite fascinating, though obviously with a fairly traumatic element too.


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11 January 2023
14:00 - 15:30
Event Category:


Bridges Centre
Drybridge Park
Monmouth, NP25 5AS


Jim Handley

Accessibility at Bridges Centre

Members’ monthly meetings are held at Bridges Community Centre, Drybridge Park. Some group meetings and activities also take place at Bridges. Off street parking is available here outside the building, and disabled parking is adjacent to the building entrance. There are no external steps or slopes, and the entrance doors are automatic. The ground floor is fully accessible and level throughout, and there is space for wheelchairs. There is a lift to the first floor, and accessible toilets on both floors. There is a hearing induction system in the Agincourt room where the monthly meetings are held.

Accessibility at Ty Price

Some group activities and meetings are held at Ty Price, St Thomas Community Hall, St Thomas’s Square. There is no off street parking here. The approach on foot is a gentle slope to double entrance doors. The ground floor of the building is fully accessible and there is a disabled toilet. The stairs to the first floor are wide and well-lit with a handrail on both sides, but there is no lift. There is a hearing induction system on the ground floor.