6 Oct 2017

Pike River robot exploration on track

9:15 pm on 6 October 2017

Underground exploration of Pike River mine with a robot is on track to begin by Christmas, Solid Energy says.

Pike River

Solid Energy chief executive Tony King said it would press on with current plans to mount an unmanned entry operation of the mine unless directed otherwise by the government. Photo: RNZ

The government this year said it would support the investigation of an unmanned entry into the drift and requested that Solid Energy, which owns the mine, stop the sealing operation.

Yesterday, the Pike River victims' families met with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters where he reiterated manned re-entry was a bottom line in negotiations to form a government.

Solid Energy chief executive Tony King said it would press on with current plans unless directed otherwise by the government.

"The agreement is between the Crown and the company, so we don't expect any change unless change is agreed."

The Labour Party has pledged to set up an agency to take over and re-enter the mine, while the National Party has said any manned entry is unsafe.

Meanwhile, the unmanned entry operation was on track.

"We're about to start work on constructing the drill pad, we've got a final design brief from the robot supplier, and we think we understand all of the issues around compliance with regulations and what we do there," Mr King said.

"So we'd hope to see activities on the ground starting within a few days, and we're working towards starting the actual underground exploration in early to mid-December."

The weather had hindered some preparations, Mr King said

"It's a very rugged and remote site that we're working at. Everything we do has to be helicopter-supported and it's been a particularly wet and windy spring."

Mr King said Solid Energy updated the Pike River families on the progress of the operation every fortnight.

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