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Fire in N.Z. gold mine contained

July 17, 2012 at 7:52 AM   |   Comments

WAIHI, New Zealand, July 17 (UPI) -- Twenty-eight miners were evacuated from an underground gold mine in Waihi, New Zealand, where a fire broke out Tuesday but has been contained, officials said.

Trio mine rescue teams evacuated the miners and said one was treated for smoke inhalation, Radio New Zealand reported.

The fire was contained in a small area and will be allowed to burn itself out, officials said.

Mine officials say an investigation would be conducted and the mine won't reopen until the investigation is completed. The cause of the fire wasn't reported.

Newmont Waihi Gold official Kit Wilson says workers did what they were supposed to do in case of fire.

"There's nothing to explode in a gold mine so we stay in a refuge chamber and we wait for help," Wilson said. "So in coal mines you walk out and in gold mines you stay. That's the big difference."

The incident prompted union officials to renew their call to allow mine workers conduct their own safety checks, Radio New Zealand said. The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union said workers should be allowed to elect their own check inspectors who can alert other miners to potential safety hazards when they arise.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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