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Pike River Mine re-entry

Posted 12 March 2019 by Gold FM in Environmental and Business
Media Release: Hon Andrew Little

Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little has announced that in light of the current state of preparations, the scheduled date to commence re-entering and recovering the access tunnel to the Pike River Mine (the drift) will be Friday 3rd May.

“Since I announced on 14 November 2018 that the project will proceed, there has been an incredible amount of preparation to get ready for re-entry. This has included preparing bridges for heavy loads, installing a nitrogen plant, upgrading the power supply, laying many kilometres of piping for the nitrogen, drilling more boreholes, installing monitoring equipment, and purging and ventilating the drift.

“As well as this, staff have been trained on working in a forensic environment. Worksafe have been reviewing all aspects of the planning, risk assessments and supporting documentation, in order to ensure the re-entry plan is safe.

“There is still some preparatory work to do: installing compressed air lines; awaiting the arrival of underground equipment such as loaders, roof bolting rigs, a driftrunner and a refuge chamber from Australia and breaching the concrete seal at 30 metres.

“Once the 30 metre seal is breached, then the re-entry and recovery operation can begin. All things going to the current plan, the Agency expects we will be at this point by May 3rd.

“The Agency’s dedication to a Safety First culture has enabled good work and good preparation over the past 14 months. There’s been international expert consultation and the purchasing of specialised equipment to do the job. That dedication to safety will continue.

“Safety is a non-negotiable bottom line for the whole project and everyone involved – including the families.

“The re-entry will only take place if all the necessary pre-conditions have been met. An event will be organised at the site to mark this important milestone on May 3rd.

“We’re hopeful that work in the drift will enable the Agency and Police to thoroughly investigate what can be found there and find clues to what caused this dreadful tragedy. This is about looking for clues to what caused the explosion that killed 29 men on 19 November 2010. The recovery operation is led by the Agency and supported by Police, who will be on site managing forensic work from the start of the re-entry,” says Andrew Little.

Photo: Pike River Recovery Agency
The nitrogen producing plant at the Pike River Mine.