ALL 28 miners trapped underground by a fire in New Zealand gold mine have returned safely to the surface.
Newmont Waihi Gold general manager Glen Grindlay says one miner needed medical attention for smoke inhalation.
Mine operations have halted while an investigation into the fire in the Trio mine is completed. And a union has renewed calls for improved safety measures.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says the Waihi incident is the latest in a series since the Pike River Coal mine disaster in November 2010, when 29 miners died.
The union wants New Zealand to bring its mine safety regime into line with Queensland’s, which is considered international best practice.
But Mr Grindlay told reporters in Waihi on Tuesday that the company complied with New Zealand mine safety standards and the more stringent Australian standards.
The 28 miners took refuge in three different underground chambers when a truck engine caught fire near the mine entrance at 5am.
A rescue team was sent in to evacuate the miners, with 13 returning to the surface by 10.30am.
The remaining 15 emerged just before midday.
“All are in good spirits. They’re very happy actually,” Mr Grindlay said.
“I believe some of them thought it was a drill.”
He said there was never a danger of an explosion.
The 35-tonne mining truck was left to burn out while efforts were concentrated on extracting the miners.
He expected the truck to be towed to the surface in the next two days.
The refuge chambers were of varying sizes and had air, water and first aid supplies.
He said the first aspect to be investigated would be the cause of the fire and other mine vehicles would undergo a safety inspection.
Newmont Waihi Gold is owned by which is based in Denver, Colorado. The company manages the Martha, Favona and Trio mines in Waihi on the Coromandel Peninsula.