Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There’s a complete lack of rigor involved in the mining exams

Didn't have the Latin for judicial inquirin'
The first phase of the judicial inquiry into the Pike River Coal-mine disaster has ended,* after so many eyebrow-raising revelations that my forehead has RSI. It appears that the mine company was cash-strapped,2 operating a money-hole rather than a mine. Corners were cut; the legally-required emergency exit was placed in the "Nice to have one day" file; urgent warnings about explosive gasses were placed in the circular filing cabinet. The company CEO testified that he never heard those warnings from any of the six people who served as mine manager in two years. All this was possible because a previous Tory government had removed the onerous, innovation-stifling hand of bureaucratic regulation from the mining industry in 1993, and subsequently sacked safety inspectors in 1999, making mining companies responsible for their own health-&-safety (under the oversight of a central inspectorate that at the time of disaster had been reduced to a single person).

We might as well be living in Eastern Europe the US.

Disappointingly, no-one has defended the mine management against the methane-neglect accusation by claiming that the subtle aroma of methane is exactly what distinguishes a productive excavation from one that is mediocre. Thus I am robbed of the opportunity to remark that "great mines stink alike". Also, the Riddled Ethics Committee informs us that it would be exploitative and wrong to make political capital from the Pike Creek Mine disaster inquiry. "You are all loonies," she went on to say.

In contrast, exploiting disasters for commercial gain is in the finest NZ traditions. With that in mind, here at Riddled Research Laboratories we have been working on safe new technologies that can potentially replace traditional mining procedures completely. Here is a peak preview of our Subterrine or Bathyscrape.

The one-man subterrine is cheaper and more maneuverable than the two-man version. However, there is less elbow-room for the operator to chip away at coal once he has encountered a rich seam,3 and a smaller payload to bring back to the surface. Also the rock does not flow around the sides of the subterrine as easily as we had hoped but these are mere teething troubles.

Tea-thing Troubles
* ...It’s safer work, judging, than mining. You’re not troubled by falling coal, for one thing… You get judges remarking on it. They say, “Hello, no much coal falling these days!”

2 The confluence of conspicuous consumption with the S&M scene is not a pretty picture.

3 Then there’s running at the coal face with your ‘ead – one of the worst methods, know as the Bad Method of getting out coal. There there’s scrabblin’ at it with you bare ‘ands, the Almost as Bad Method of getting out coal. And there’s myriad others.


UPDATED with bonus illustration from De re Metallica. Which is totally not a heavy-metal fan site. Also, Agricola is not the name of a rival caffeinated fizzy drink.

20 comments:

mikey said...

I dunno, I'm thinkin you send a buncha those Viking muthas down there what with their pelvis skulls and their big swords and you'll be up to your bloomin arse in coal before midrats...

Substance McGravitas said...

When you're upside-down you should just be able to break the crust of the earth and position a hopper over the hole. Simple.

J— said...

under the oversight of a central inspectorate that at the time of disaster had been reduced to a single person

Now that's centralized!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

All this was possible because a previous Tory government had removed the onerous, innovation-stifling hand of bureaucratic regulation from the mining industry in 1993

Wow, I think you had the jump on us here with that bit of repealing the last century.
~

tigris said...

no-one has defended the mine management against the methane-neglect accusation by claiming that the subtle aroma of methane is exactly what distinguishes a productive excavation from one that is mediocre

Ooh, ooh, did they defend it by claiming the aroma was the same as that emanating from the miners after their daily mandatory bean breakfast?

fish said...

"great mines stink alike"

he who smelts it, dealt it.

Kathleen said...

diagnosis: aroma therapy.

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

Zow.
Does the minister think it is good enough that when the two Pike River survivors struggled to the phone in the Pike River mine and called the Pike River surface controller, their call went to an answerphone?

For scheduling questions, please press one. If you are trapped a quarter mile below the surface in a series of tunnels that are variously exploding, please press two. If you have inquiries regarding dental benefits, please press 3.

Smut Clyde said...

It would be very wrong to exploit this serious academic report for lolz.

Another Kiwi said...

Also, I see you, E.L. Wisty. You and you world domination plans.

Smut Clyde said...

he who smelts it, dealt it.
Fish is banned.

Also, I see you, E.L. Wisty.
I couldn't find a decent illustration of Cook delivering the Coal Miner skit [though there are plenty of YouTubas] which is why he is there as his E.L. Wisty character instead.

tigris said...

You could always use a shot from Bedazzled.

Another Kiwi said...

I thought it was Wisty that was down the mine, because of the judges exam being so rigourous. I always liked that bit about Proust.
A man is singing "I've been a miner for a heart of gold" on the radio as I write. Stop manipulating the radio, Smut!!

fish said...

Fish is banned.

Yes a banned conveyor is probably important as well.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The confluence of conspicuous consumption with the S&M scene is not a pretty picture.

S&M and conspicuous consumption go together like whips and furs!

fish said...

I have never been more disappointed in a link.

Smut Clyde said...

In other news, earlier concerns about the non-safety of NZ mines had led to a report advising more inspections and tighter regulations. This turns out to have been sitting in the Minister of Labour's Too-Hard basket for the last two years (she favours an industry-self-regulation approach).

Smut Clyde said...

Whips and furze? I do not rate for gorse.

Smut Clyde said...

Here is a peak preview

Should read "pique preview", obviously.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

fish is banned!