8 Aug 2013

Hurdles remain for Pike River mine re-entry

2:58 pm on 8 August 2013

Pike River families wanting authorities to re-enter the West Coast mine face three more hurdles before a recovery operation can start.

The remains of the 29 men who died in explosions in November 2010 are believed to be about two kilometres into a tunnel, on the other side of a large rockfall.

Representatives of the mine's owner, Solid Energy, the families, the Government and the Mines Rescue Service have been meeting regularly since February and have worked out costings and timings for a recovery operation.

The plan needs to go first to the Solid Energy Board, then the Government's High Hazards Unit and finally to Cabinet.

The Chief Inspector of Mines has said previously the plan needs to be safe, viable and economical.

A spokesman for some Pike families, Bernie Monk, says he believes it is all of those things. Mr Monk told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the Government has been consistently supportive and he believes it will only be a short time before the families' plan is approved.

The MP for West Coast-Tasman, Labour's Damien O'Connor, says he believes the Government will agree to the plan, and it could be put into action before Christmas.

Mr O'Connor says it is possible investigators could move in a staged process up to the rockfall but it remains unclear whether they will be able to move beyond it. He says the plan's price-tag is estimated at about $10 million.