Nation in Mourning
PM John Key declared that New Zealand was a “nation in mourning” after the deaths of 29 miners in explosions in the Pike River coal mine. “New Zealand is a country where we are our brother’s keeper, so to lose this many brothers at once strikes an agonising blow,” he told a news conference in Wellington. The 29 men whose names and faces we have all come to know will never walk amongst us again.” Two injured miners emerged from the initial explosion. New Zealand’s worst mining disaster was in 1896, when a gas explosion at the Brunner mine, also near Greymouth, left 65 miners dead. It accessed the same coal seam as Pike River, New Zealand’s largest coal mine. Employing 15 people and operational since 28, Pike River produced premium metallurgical hard coking coal, in international demand by steel making mills and coke-making plants. Pike River coal has the lowest ash content of the world’s coking coals at one per cent (once processed through the coal preparation plant). Low ash coal uses less energy and results in less wastage in the process of manufacturing coke. Coke is an essential ingredient in the steel making process and is essentially carbon with some residual ash.