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Pike River Technical Case Study

Pike Rivera Technical Case Study

The strategy of PRCM management was to outsource most aspects of the mine design (including the mine electricity supply and ventilation) and the operation of the mine (including constructing the mine, extracting the coal, and financial, environmental and safety processes). Drawing on strategic management principles, explain why this management strategy would have been adopted and explain the problems of this approach.

Drawing on the strategic management principles, this strategy would have been adopted because PRCM's long-term mine plan had been to mature roadways to the north-west corner of the mine, and then once that has been done, establish a second intake and create hydro mining in that area, and for mining to retreat back to pit bottom over the life of the mine -- about 19 years. The plan would have been adopted because the second intake, had it been developed, would have doubled as a walkout door which would have been from the mine and likewise improved the competence of the ventilation system. This plan would have been adopted for the reason that the original mine plan specified two main fans which were situated on the foot hill which were next to a ventilation shaft.

With the strategy of PRCM management to outsource most aspects of the mine design, the company would decide to move the fans underground in stone at the bottom of a ventilation shaft. It outsourced most aspects of the mine design by placing a main fan underground in a gassy coal mine which turned out to be a world first, where it could not be reached in the event of a tragedy. It outsourced most aspects of the mine design because the fan's motor and other items of electrical equipment underground were not intended to be flameproof, and could function only in fresh air. However, there was some problem with this approach. In spite of early plans to be able to pre-drain methane from the coal seam before mining was able to start, this hadn't occurred. As an alternative, gas was bled out of the seam from the in-seam drill holes that the corporation relied on to discover where the coal seam lay, and drained through a pipeline the business knew to be insufficient and over pressured.

There is a problem of this approach because a ventilation consultant and some Pike staff voiced opposition, nonetheless the decision was not looked into good enough. The fan meaningfully increased Pike's ventilation volume, at any rate in the short-term. With that said, this was a problem with the outsourcing because the board received a monthly report covering a health and safety element. It did not cover the hazards pertinent to a disastrous event for example an explosion. Again, the problems of this approach was that the board did not measure critical design and health and safety matters. To make matters worse with this approach, the mine manager attended a board meeting four days before the burst and told the directors that gas management was 'more a bother and day-to-day operational consideration than an important issue or barricade to operations'. However, the board was not well placed to measure this reassurance specified their lack of operational information. Pike's mine management strategies and procedures needed substantial attention. The health and safety management plan was mainly in draft, partially while expecting technical contribution from other managers.

Investigations into the disaster clearly point to poor management decision-making as contributing factors. Drawing on two functions of management (planning and leading) discuss some examples of poor management decisions.

It is obvious that when it comes to business, many organizations such as in this case place a huge amount of reliance on individuals to do their jobs correctly, and they depend on us to do the same thing. But then again how often is that trust and reliance out-of-place? When it comes to the Pike River Case, two of the three planks that individuals trust on to support good workplace safety -- regulators and unions -- were successfully missing. There was a union operating at the mine but it was not making the proper decisions. The union influence had been harshly damaged by New Zealand's industrial legislation and the aggressive approach of the corporation's management. The union was feeble and only acted once to take the men out of the mine -- despite the clear dangers (Royal Commission into the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy, 2010).

When it came down to the second plank, it did offer any real support from the law. Over two decades New Zealand's mines inspectorate service had turn out to be so run down it was efficiently neutralised by the time of the accident (Davidson, 2013). Therefore, the "umbrella of protection" individuals might expect the regulator to provide merely did not be present. That meant the lone plank left supporting safety at the mine was the corporation, and as events showed the company couldn't be depended on o either.

The case has a lot of instances of just poor management for instance with the gas. Because the management was not good when covering the gas, the initial explosion was able impair the mine's gas drainage line, producing methane gas to start gathering in the mine right away. This was important to find out because there could have been a potential ignition source that would have let them know that it was too dangerous for rescuers to go into the mine. (New Zealand Parliament Hansard, 2006)

It was initially foretold to take several days before the mine was safe enough for rescuers to enter, (MacFie, 2013) as the gases inside were feared to be explosive but management did a poor job of making sure that this was handled right. To begin with testing at the mine ventilation shaft was hindered by heavy clouds, stopping helicopter admission, and staff were going to have to walk in over rough land, as the shaft does not have road admittance. (New Zealand Parliament Hansard, 2006)

There was seismic equipment that was attached to tubes at the tunnel mouth to sense movement in the mine but management did not check this accurately either. With tests still not giving clearance for rescuers to enter the mine, an effort was made to come into the mine utilizing a bomb removal robot given by the New Zealand Defence Force. The robot failed just 650 metres (1,700 ft.) into the mine due to water ingress and poor monitoring. There was sources recognized that while the robot was proficient of functioning in rain, it had "efficiently [been] hit by a waterfall," short-circuiting it. (Royal Commission into the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy, 2010)A second NZDF bomb disposal robot was putt on stand-by to enter but this was poorly done as well. This robot had been fixed with extra batteries and other device to try to evade the difficulties which hit the first robot. This was not good because management was responsible with making sure that the robots were operating correctly. The robots entered the mine were not supervised correctly. The use of three robots was unparalleled in mine rescue during that time so it was sort of a new thing. The use of United States mining rescue/exploration robots was also being looked into though the second explosion later that day successfully finished the robot efforts.

Later on 24 November it was described that a drill started from above the horizontal mine (Royal Commission into the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy, 2010) had reached to the mine chamber, discharging hot gas. Then later on in the day it was reported exploration presented 95% methane. (MacFie, 2013)A camera, introduced into a safe refuge in the mine, discovered no evidence of human action.

PRCM faced many challenges developing a new mine in a mountainous area with difficult geological conditions because of the poor management. The company's knowledge of the geology and the extent and location of the coal seam was founded on an initial 15-borehole exploration agenda, complemented by a similar number of wells drilled next. These provided inadequate geological information, which led to opposing unexpected ground circumstances hindering mine development because of poor management. Building of the drift took much longer than expected. Because management did not do close watching, interruptions were caused by a down thrust among faults (called a graven), which produced a zone of sandstone rather than coal, and the failure of the bottom unit of the ventilation shaft throughout construction. The collapse meant that a bypass had to be constructed to rewire to the upper part of the shaft about 60m above the pit bottom.

Poor management skills also go back to the time of the accident Pike River when it was well behind on its production targets and it was also under substantial financial pressure. And for a variety of motives there were a quantity of people working at the mine that actually weren't up to the job. For instance, at the time of the explosion, the person…

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