19 Dec 2010

New mine pump could be going all summer

12:17 pm on 19 December 2010

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says a nitrogen pumping machine now working at the Pike River coal mine, could be in operation for the next three months.

The 20-tonne machine, borrowed from Queensland, was tested on Saturday and is pumping inert gas into the mine to cool it.

Its use is a step towards making the mine safe to re-enter, so recovery crews can look for the bodies of the 29 men who perished inside in a series of explosions that began on 19 November.

Mr Kokshoorn says the Greymouth community was heartened by the machine's arrival and by the continuing commitment to the recovery operation.

He says it's a positive note in what will be a subdued Christmas on the West Coast.

Mr Kokshoorn says early estimates are that machine could be running for the rest of the summer.