Pike River reaches recovery milestone

Water Corporation robot recovered 953 metres up the Pike River mine drift. Image: Pike River Recovery Agency

The Pike River Recovery Agency has broken through the 1000-metre mark in its re-entry of the New Zealand coal mine that sustained multiple explosions in 2010.

The teams have reached 1081 metres up the 2.3 kilometres drift as of July 7, more than doubling their progress since mid-May (475 metres).

The recovery agency performed roof bolting, completed forensic investigations and advanced refuge chamber and underground services between those periods.

It has also found four robots so far, which included an army robot, Wheelbarrow Revolution MK8 that went in to the Pike River mine as part of a previous recovery operation.

The robot, weighing 290 kilograms and stretching a metre high, went in prior to the second explosion at Pike River in 2010. It was found 944 metres up the mine drift.

The other robot recovered went into the mine after the explosions and belonged to Water Corporation.

It carried in a smaller robot that made its way further up the tunnel. The recovery agency expects to recover it later this month.

Two other robots were recovered in Pike River last month. This included a military robot that was later scooped up by a loader and removed from the drift access tunnel.

All items were handed to the police forensics team on site.

The recovery agency is undergoing a trial to increase shift hours to allow more underground work to take place.

Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson is confident the crews will reach 1570 metres and recover a survivor’s loader by the end of the month.