Pike and Spring Creek updates: union

NEW Zealand Police may be close to handing over control of the Pike River Coal mine to the appointed receivers, while Solid Energy’s nearby Spring Creek hydro-mining operation could soon return to production after an underground scare a few months ago.
Pike and Spring Creek updates: union Pike and Spring Creek updates: union Pike and Spring Creek updates: union Pike and Spring Creek updates: union Pike and Spring Creek updates: union

Solid Energy's Spring Creek underground mine.

Blair Price

The handover of the Pike River mine to PricewaterhouseCoopers has been considered imminent since police commissioner Howard Broad announced it on January 13.

“This still has not happened and we keep being told it is a week or two away,” Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little told ILN.

The Pike River mine was a hydro-mining operation, like the Spring Creek mine which is also on the South Island’s west coast.

North of Greymouth, the Spring Creek mine has been on care and maintenance since November, according to Little.

He said this followed the discovery of coal heatings underground.

Noting that Solid would be “very cautious”, Little said he had been told the company expected to resume production shortly.

Recovery efforts at Pike River have been heavily funded by the New Zealand Police.

A recent coronial inquest found that all the 29 men missing in the Pike River disaster died within minutes of the first explosion at the mine.

Hopes of finding more survivors ended after the second underground explosion on November 24.

Damage from subsequent methane explosions and a fire underground further complicated the recovery effort.

Possible causes of the mining disaster will be covered in the Royal Commission inquiry, which must report to New Zealand’s governor-general by March 31, 2012.

ILN is seeking comment from Solid.