The rigorous process to look at the risks around the three re-entry options being considered for the Pike River Mine has turned up no “showstoppers”, Pike River Recovery Agency Chief Executive Dave Gawn says.
Technical mining experts contracted to the Pike River Recovery Agency, independent miners, Agency staff, Family Reference Group members, plus representatives from WorkSafe, New Zealand Mines Rescue, and the Department of Conservation have been gathered near Greymouth for the best part of two weeks to map risks, hazards and existing and new control measures needed to manage or mitigate risks.
“Pike River families and all New Zealanders can feel confident that the process being undertaken to ensure the safety of anyone who ends up re-entering the Pike River Mine is very thorough,” Agency Chief Executive Dave Gawn says.
“They’ve been poring over the ins and outs of each task required to enable re-entry via the three agreed options. There’s still a couple of stages to go before the Agency pulls together its recommendation to the Minister, but I’m confident that at this stage, there’s nothing I’ve heard that would mean re-entry is impossible,” he says.
The three options being risk assessed are:
1. Single entry – that is, going into the current portal with suitable safety controls in place.
2. Build a new small tunnel from up on the hill, from about 220 – 250 metres long, to connect with the “Pit Bottom in Stone” area, for ventilation and second egress
3. Single entry with a new large diameter borehole to provide a means of emergency escape
Two further phases of the risk assessment process will include a review of the findings by technical experts on 1 and 2 October; and a final review on 16 October.