Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Kininmonth, B, Appin Colliery explosion reassessed, in Aziz, N (ed), 10th Underground Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2010, 299-311.


The Judicial Inquiry into the Appin Colliery explosion on 23rd July 1979 made a specific finding that the fan starter box was the location of the initial ignition of gas. The subsequent Coronial Inquiry recognized the possibility of the fan starter box being the source but also recognized the possibility that the Deputy’s flame safety lamp could have been the trigger. Neither Inquiry detailed the mistakes that must have been made for either of those options to be the cause. It is contended that the flow of factual information at such Inquiries can be influenced by the high-profile legal representation used by the interested parties. It is important to ask whether an Inquiry before an independent technical expert would give the industry a better explanation of the factors that led to and caused the event.