Fatal risks remain at Pike River

PLANS to re-enter the Pike River mine in New Zealand have faced more delays – causing a further outcry from families of the 29 men who died there when disaster struck in 2010.

Blair Price

Solid Energy bought the former Pike River Coal business in July 2012.

“There has been an expectation in the community that the Solid Energy board will be considering the Pike River mine re-entry project in August,” Solid said last week.

“Solid Energy’s board will not be considering the Pike River mine drift re-entry project at its August board meeting.

“This is due to the nature of the residual risks and other outstanding matters that need to be addressed prior to the board considering the proposal.

“The board’s health and safety committee met earlier this month to consider the outcomes of the risk assessment work on the remaining stages of the project.

“Further matters in relation to the potentially fatal risks have arisen and these are now being assessed.”

Almost a year ago the New Zealand government announced it would fund the $NZ7.2 million ($A6.5 million) project to conduct a staged re-entry into the mine’s rockfall-blocked drift access tunnel.

The disappointing news of further delays to the plan prompted indignation among Pike River families.

Bernie Monk, who lost a son in the disaster, told The Press that the delay was an “absolute embarrassment to New Zealand”.

“We're more determined than ever,” he reportedly said of the victims’ families.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn reportedly said the re-entry plan to go up to the rockfall 2.3km into the tunnel had “extremely minimal” risks.

“You're not going in a coal mine … you're going up to a sealed area, which is solid rock with no methane,” he told the newspaper.

Explosive risks from the sealed gassy mine workings threaten any effort to possibly recover bodies of the 29 men killed by the 2010 disaster.