10 Dec 2010

Australian generator sought to help cool mine

5:27 pm on 10 December 2010

Police say they will fly a nitrogen generator from Australia to cool a West Coast mine and help prevent further explosions.

Twenty-nine men were killed after a series of explosions at the mine near Greymouth which began on 19 November.

The generator weighs more than 20 tonnes and will take over in the next phase of the recovery operation.

A GAG machine, used to neutralise dangerous gases in the mine, is being used at present.

Spokesperson Grant Ogilvie says police are assessing how and when they will get the shipping container-sized generator to Greymouth. It is likely to be flown to Christchurch and transported by truck to the West Coast.

Police had been assessing a similar machine in New Zealand, but it was decided the one in Australia was better suited.

Mr Ogilvie says the generator will pump nitrogen into the mine, once the experts decide to turn off the GAG machine.

Despite the GAG operating for more than a week, temperatures in the mine remain extremely high - reaching about 600 degrees Celsius.