Andrew Little announces decision to re-enter Pike River Mine

by RNZ / 14 November, 2018

Mines Rescue staff prepare to enter Pike River Mine months after the 2010 explosion. A new entry attempt has been confirmed. Photo/Getty Images

The Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry has this morning announced that a plan to re-enter the mine drift to retrieve the bodies of the 29 men who died there in 2010 will proceed.

Andrew Little made the announcement at Parliament, in front of a number of the families of the Pike 29. 

“Re-entry of the Pike River Mine will proceed. To the Pike River families, to New Zealand, we are returning.”

He said he decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, was by far the safest option.

“I’ve been considering the re-entry recommendations, risk assessments and information provided by the Pike River Recovery Agency, along with input from independent advisor, Rob Fyfe.

“The re-entry method I have approved is the simplest and safest plan."

The re-entry will cost a total of $36 million.

Mr Little said preparation work has been underway for the past few months and a nitrogen plant at the site will now be bought into service.

“Work to prepare the mine drift for re-entry is underway, and includes venting methane from the mine, pumping nitrogen into the mine, and then filling the drift with fresh air. Additional boreholes have to be drilled and this work will get underway immediately.

A spokesperson for the families told media the re-entry plan is a victory for the little people.

"We've fought really hard to get to where we are today."

Photo / Rebekah Parsons-King

If you believe in something hard enough and long enough, you'll make it happen, she said.

"We needed to fight, we need to bring home our men if we can."

The spokesperson said since Pike River, there have been 400 workplace deaths.

"We need to up our game as far as health and safety is concerned."

Mr Little said he wanted to thank the families working alongside the Pike River Recovery Agency over the past months, and for not giving up hope for the last eight years.

In July, Pike River Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn said they had received expert advice showing a safe manned re-entry of the mine drift was possible.

Three options were put on the table including building a new 2m by 2m tunnel, about 200m long, to the pit bottom in stone area; drilling a large diameter borehole; and re-entering the main drift as it is with no second exit.

A group of experts then considered the options and presented Andrew Little with a plan for safe entry to the mine. 

The Family Reference Group representing the majority of the Pike 29 families have been involved in the planning, along with their own technical experts.

Mr Little said experts from around the world have spent months examining details of all the risks pertaining to each option.

“The planned method of re-entry will be made safe through the use of controls, in line with mining standards around the world. 

Mr Little said the re-entry will properly get underway around February, by breaching the 30m seal.

Equipment arrived at the mine site last month to start purging it of explosive methane.

The plant - which was used in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 mine explosion - arrived in several containers from Australia.

It will be on the site for one year.
 

This article was originally published by RNZ.

Latest

Dear Oliver: A son's poignant tribute to his mother
93895 2018-12-13 00:00:00Z Books

Dear Oliver: A son's poignant tribute to his mothe…

by Peter Wells

A reminder that nothing can really prepare us for the death of a beloved parent.

Read more
Big Little Lies author does it again in Nine Perfect Strangers
100041 2018-12-13 00:00:00Z Books

Big Little Lies author does it again in Nine Perfe…

by Catherine Woulfe

The new book by Liane Moriarty can induce cravings despite its health retreat setting.

Read more
Barbershop confidential: Nelson's Man Cave offers more than just haircuts
99534 2018-12-13 00:00:00Z Psychology

Barbershop confidential: Nelson's Man Cave offers …

by Fiona Terry

In Nelson, there’s a place where modern “cavemen” can go to be groomed, chill out to music, and find someone to tell their troubles to.

Read more
The Listener's 50 Best Champagnes of 2018
100190 2018-12-13 00:00:00Z Wine

The Listener's 50 Best Champagnes of 2018

by Michael Cooper

Celebrate the festive season with sparkling wines from Central Otago to Champagne, priced from $10 to $125.

Read more
Win a double pass to Vice, the new Dick Cheney movie
100368 2018-12-12 10:44:10Z Win

Win a double pass to Vice, the new Dick Cheney mov…

by The Listener

Oscar-winning writer-director Adam McKay brings his trademark wit to the true story of US Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice.

Read more
End of an era: Auckland's independent film library Videon to shut its doors
100360 2018-12-12 10:00:59Z Small business

End of an era: Auckland's independent film library…

by Alex Blackwood

An iconic Auckland store is closing.

Read more
Michael Moore takes on Trump with fire and fury in Fahrenheit 11/9
100230 2018-12-12 00:00:00Z Movies

Michael Moore takes on Trump with fire and fury in…

by James Robins

The conflagration that gave the US President Trump is traced to September 2001.

Read more
10 ideas for the perfect summer Christmas menu
100210 2018-12-12 00:00:00Z Food

10 ideas for the perfect summer Christmas menu

by Lauraine Jacobs

Seafood stars in the entrée courses before turkey takes centre stage, with all the trimmings, to be followed by a fantastic fruity pudding.

Read more