14 Jul 2018

Pike River re-entry: 'Concept plan' presented to families

2:29 pm on 14 July 2018

A plan for re-entering the drift of the Pike River Mine has been presented to victims' familes in Greymouth this morning.

Andrew Little

Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The plan is being described as a "concept plan" with more detailed planning to follow if it is approved.

Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry Andrew Little, and Pike River Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn have been talking to the relatives of the 29 men killed in the mine in 2010.

Mr Little said the families were now discussing the plan and he hoped to give it the go-ahead on Monday.

However, he said he expected they would approve the concept plan.

"My sense is the families are really happy with the level of work that has been done, the quality of ther work. They seem pretty satisfied with it ... They're keen for the project to continue to make progress, so that we re-enter the drift and recover as much as we can."

The plan has several options, but there was more work that needed to be done on detailed planning, including purging the drift, and ensuring safety requirements were met such as a second exit.

He hoped practical work on re-entering the mine could start by the end of the year. But the work involved will take months, rather than weeks, Mr Little said.

Other details of the plan have not been released.

The Pike River Recovery Agency was set up by the government earlier this year to plan a safe, manned re-entry and recovery of the drift access tunnel.

The aim is to try and find out what happened in order to prevent any further tragedies, to give the families closure and where possible, retrieve any remains found in the drift, the agency has said.

The government is spending up to $23 million on the project.

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