23 Nov 2016

Concrete company won't help seal Pike

10:47 pm on 23 November 2016

The company supplying concrete for the sealing of the Pike River Mine has pulled out of the project due to the opposition to the work.

Protests were held at the entrance to the Pike River mine.

Protests have been held at the entrance to the Pike River Mine in recent weeks. Photo: Supplied

Some of the families have protested Solid Energy's plan to permanently seal the mine, where the 29 men died.

WorkSafe has declined an application for a stay in sealing the mine.

The families say the mine drift can be safely entered to check for evidence of what caused the explosion.

The government says re-entering the mine is unsafe.

Solid Energy has been decommissioning Pike River mine. It installed a permanent seal 30 metres down the drift. A wall at the portal, and infilling the last 30m section of the drift, would follow.

Brent Esler is the chief executive of the company HW Richardson, which owns Allied Concrete.

Mr Esler said Allied Concrete had supplied concrete to a company contracted to carry out the work to seal the mine.

The company decided to stop supplying the concrete after some of the families of the men who died got in contact, he said.

"We became aware of the emotional upheaval of the families involved in the tragedy," Mr Esler said.

"As a family -owned business, [we are] very sympathetic to the families and the tragedy they've been through. So we've just taken the decision not to supply in the hope that in time a resolution will be found."

Anna Osborne, the widow of Milton Osborne who died in the mine, was ecstatic Allied Concrete had a moral compass.

She hoped other companies involved in the project to seal the mine would follow suit.

"I'd actually make a plea to those companies to think of the families who have been waiting six long years for some form of truth, some sort of justice, some form of answers," said Ms Osborne.

"Until the drift has been re-entered I don't think anyone should be doing any work up there. It's morally wrong, it's inhumane."

Environment Minister Nick Smith has released a statement saying that Solid Energy had informed him that the first part of the work, to complete a permanent seal 30m down the drift, was completed.

The rest of the work programme would not be significantly affected.

Solid Energy said ready mix concrete was not essential to complete the seal of the mine, as the bulk of the seal was made of Stopcrete, Mr Smith said.

In a statement Solid Energy said it would continue with the process of sealing the Pike River mine.

It saw no way that the site could be left incompletely sealed, it said.

It was disappointed Allied Concrete had decided not to supply products.

The permanent closure of the mine was expected to be completed by early next year.

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