Pike River re-entry moves to unexplored areas of drift

August 6, 2020 JOHN NINNESS

The Pike River mine re-entry will move to previously unexplored areas of the mine drift this week recovering a loader that was operated by one of the mine’s survivors.

Re-entry efforts have previously covered ground explored by robots following the disaster but this week a new milestone has been reached around 1600 metres into the 2300 metre drift.

Chief Operating Officer of the Pike River Recovery Agency, Dinghy Pattinson told local news that “the next big area of interest was Pit Bottom in Stone, where Daniel Rockhouse’s loader sits, as well as electrical equipment, which may hold vital evidence about the cause of the explosions.”

“While nearly 1600 metres of the 2300m drift has now been recovered, there is still around 600 metres of roadway in the Pit Bottom in Stone area that will also need to be explored and examined when that area is reached.”

“Things have been progressing very well, and we’re hopeful that we might reach Pit Bottom in Stone by the end of August. However, there are a lot of unknowns between then and now” Mr Pattinson said.

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Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little said that the recovery and forensic examination of the loader driven by survivor Russell Smith means the underground team are now moving into an area of the Pike River Mine that has not been seen since the explosion.

“The fifth and last robot was recovered before the loader, and now there’s several hundred metres of previously unexplored drift and roadways in the Pit Bottom in Stone area that have not been seen since 2010.  We’ve reached a significant point in the recovery which is about trying to find out why the 29 men who went to work on 19 November 2010 didn’t come home.

“As always health and safety is a bottom line for the Agency. There are still many unknowns in the unexplored drift ahead. And recovery operations will continue to be significant and complex.  

“As we’ve said from the start, it is unlikely that human remains will be recovered.  But we will complete the recovery of the drift as we set out to do, in order to offer the families closure, to promote accountability for this tragedy and to help prevent future mining tragedies,” Andrew Little said.

Image: Pike River Recovery Agency

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