History of Brunner Mine Explosion [March 26, 1896] along with a Walkthrough of Brunner Mine – [Video version]


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The Brunner Mine was a coal mine on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The Brunner Mine was one of several mines situated on the banks of the Grey River, at an area known as “Coal Gorge” between the townships of Stillwater and Taylorville.

The town of Brunner (formerly Brunnerton) is nearby. Coal was discovered on the West Coast by Nelson surveyor Thomas Brunner “during the most arduous of his journeys in search of more agricultural land”.

The coal was of extremely high quality and it did not take long before it attracted interest. And, of course, “The West Coast had the added attraction of gold mining and it seems that the employment opportunity offered by coal mining was in the difficult economic times not one to be turned down”.

Brunner Mine disaster Main article: Brunner Mine disaster In March 1896 an explosion deep in the mine killed all 65 miners inside and was labeled the worst mining disaster in New Zealand’s history. It seemed most likely that the explosion was caused by firedamp, a common hazard in coal mines, where a pocket of methane gas is accidentally ignited and explodes. The next section is a brief tour of the Brunner mine, Grey Valley – near Greymouth, NZ. This was a major coal-bearing site, instrumental in kick-starting NZ’s Industrial Revolution. First ‘discovered’ in 1848 by Thomas Brunner, it wasn’t officially operating until 1864. In 1896 a massive explosion occurred killing all the men working underground. It ceased operating in 1942. The site is now one of major national heritage significance to NZ and is open to the public 24/7.

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