Major milestone reached in Pike River Re-entry

September 16, 2020 Mining Editor

The Pike River mine recovery team has reached a critical milestone in their search for answers on the Pike River Mine Disaster that saw 29 miners perish in 2010.

This week the recovery team reached Pit Bottom in their search of the mine drift. The critical area known as Pit Bottom will be forensically examined for clues to the cause of the disaster.

Minister responsible for the recovery of the Pike River mine, Andrew Little, said a “major milestone” had been reached.

“The infrastructure located in Pit Bottom in Stone is of very significant interest in determining why 29 men went to work on 19 November 2010 and never came home,” Andrew Little said.

“The Coalition Government, with the support of its Confidence and Supply Partner, made a commitment through the coalition agreement to fulfil the original promise made to the families of the 29 miners and workers: to do everything practicably possible to re-enter the drift and to better understand the cause or causes of the original explosion on 19 November 2010. We are a substantial way in delivering on that commitment,” Andrew Little told local reporters.

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The recovery and forensics of the Pit Bottom in Stone roadways are complex. The current plan consists of the following:

  • A hazard assessment, inspection and initial forensic scan will be carried out of all the PBIS roadways
  • Any necessary work to manage identified hazards will be done
  • The roadway entrances off the side of the drift will then be barricaded off to prevent entry except for required statutory inspections
  • Recovery of the drift will continue up to the existing Rocsil plug at 2,240 metres.  This section of about 360 metres will require extensive re-support work and the removal of a debris field so it could take up to 2 months (assuming no unexpected conditions that are not currently known)
  • A rated ventilation control device (VCD) will be constructed on the mine portal/entrance side of the Rocsil plug which is very close to the large roof fall at the end of the drift
  • Once this has been done all of the Pit Bottom in Stone roadways will be fully recovered and detailed forensic examination of the various items of interest there will be carried out

“Undertaking forensics on this area is going to require some additional expert guidance as the area is being treated as a crime scene. The Pike River Recovery Agency will be working through this with the New Zealand Police,” Andrew Little said.

Pike families, have also confirmed that reaching pit bottom was a huge milestone for the recovery effort.

A statement from the group that represents 27 of the miner’s families confirmed: “We are anticipating that forensic analysis of this equipment will be able to provide critical evidence to explain in detail the sequence of events when the mine exploded, closing gaps that we hope and pray will finally make justice for the Pike River 31 a reality.”

A LHD was recovered over the last week

Read more Mining Safety News

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