NZ Government proceeds to re-enter Pike River mine

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The New Zealand Government has chosen to re-enter the Pike River mine drift eight years since multiple explosions hit the operation on November 2010.

Pike River mine is 46 kilometres north-northeast of Greymouth in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island.

The decision represents the NZ Government’s commitment to “fulfilling the original promise made to the families of the 29 miners and workers … and to better understand the cause or causes of the original explosion on 19 November 2010,” Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry Andrew Little said.

The re-entry recommendations and risk assessments provided by the Pike River Recovery Agency – Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa – were evaluated for months, in consultation with independent advisor Rob Fyfe.

“The planned method of re-entry will be made safe through the use of controls, in line with mining standards around the world,” Little said.

“This is an extraordinarily complex undertaking and we have had the benefit of advice from some of the best in the world in their field.”

Three feasible options were considered, namely single entry using the existing drift design; drilling a second tunnel at the end of the drift, closer to the mine workings; and drilling a large borehole part way down the drift for both ventilation and emergency egress.

Little has chosen to execute the single entry approach, as recommended by the agency as a safe and appropriate re-entry method.

The New Zealand Police has also been engaged to provide their service in examining the drift tunnel through to the roof fall area.

Major works for the re-entry is scheduled to go under way around February next year.

“The people of New Zealand can rest assured that this re-entry plan is achievable.  It is now our intention to get this job done, and try and find out why those 29 men went to work on 19 November 2010, and never came home,” Little said.