31 Jan 2018

Pike River Mine recovery agency opens

9:55 am on 31 January 2018

The agency overseeing entry into the Pike River Mine opens in Greymouth today.

March 2019 possiblity for Pike River mine re entry

The Pike River mine. Photo: RNZ / YouTube

Twenty-nine men died when the coal mine exploded just over seven years ago.

Since then their families have fought for it to be re-entered and for their bodies to be returned to them.

The government last year said it was confident of re-entering the mine, despite officials highlighting the dangers. In a briefing to the minister Andrew Little, officials said there were risks including injury, explosion, suffocation and entrapment.

The Pike River Recovery Agency - Te Kahui Whakamana Rua Tekau ma Iwa - will be funded to the tune of $23 million over three years and will be headed by former army chief, Major General David Gawn.

It has just over a year to complete a manned re-entry of the 2.3km long entry tunnel to the mine to recover the men and look for clues as to why it exploded.

Establishing and opening the agency was on the government agenda for its first 100 days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will cut the ribbon at its new offices in Greymouth today.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled a decision to withdraw a prosecution against Pike Rive Mine boss Peter Whittall, in exchange for payments to the victims' families, was unlawful.

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