26 Sep 2014

Second tunnel 'would scuttle recovery'

3:18 pm on 26 September 2014

The chief executive of Solid Energy says if the law requires the Pike River mine to have a second tunnel, any plans for a re-entry and body recovery will be scuttled.

The Pike River coal mine in November 2010.

The Pike River coal mine in November 2010. Photo: REUTERS

Some of the families of the 29 men who died in the mine said they had been kept in the dark about the company's plans for entering the drift and fear it will not go ahead, despite Worksafe New Zealand saying it was safe.

Solid Energy said it would make a decision by the end of October on whether or not it will allow a re-entry into the mine's drift to go ahead.

Chief executive Dan Clifford said if the board of directors is advised that a second access tunnel was a legal requirement to any re-entry plans, it will mean the end of the project.

Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford.

Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford. Photo: RNZ

"If our advice legally that's the case, our board has no other option than to comply with the law."

Families' lawyer seeks meeting

The lawyer representing some of the victims' families has requested a meeting with the Solid Energy's lawyers.

Colin Smith said families want to see the information that the company is using to base its decision on.

"Obviously, we need to know who is correct, we need to know what is the correct interpretation of the law, so on behalf of families, I'm waiting for feedback from Worksafe New Zealand and also feedback from Solid Energy as to whether the parties are prepared, or their legal advisers are prepared, to enter into a discussion, so that this particular legal issue or point can be resolved."

Mr Smith said the information Solid Energy is using is likely to be legally privileged and the families are relying on the goodwill of the company.

The Minister for Labour, Simon Bridges, says while Solid Energy has not made any decisions he will not be drawn into speculation at this time.

Relatives of Pike River victims protest in Greymouth.

Relatives of Pike River victims protesting against Mr Key's visit. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

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