New Zealand plans to re-enter coal mine where 29 died

2013-09-03 09:02


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Wellington - New Zealand announced plans on Tuesday to re-enter a coal mine where 29 men died in an explosion three years ago but warned there was little chance of finding any remains.

The proposal follows lobbying by families of the men killed in the blast at the Pike River colliery in November 2010 to recover the victims of New Zealand's worst mining disaster in almost a century.

Resources Minister Simon Bridges said the government had agreed to fund a $5.6m plan to send a recovery team more than 2km up the mine shaft.

Bridges said a rock fall had blocked the shaft at that point and the team would not go beyond it to the coalface, where most of the bodies are believed to be located.

"Our criteria are that any re-entry into the tunnel up to the rock fall is safe, technically feasible and financially credible," he said. "Safety is paramount."

Bridges said the prospects of finding remains in the shaft were "slim" and it was too early to say whether the recovery team would ever be able to reach the coalface because of the volatile gases still believed to be present in the pit.

"We do know there's been fires, there's been floods, there's been explosions so it has been and probably still is a very unstable environment," he said.

"That makes me personally sceptical about going further than the rockfall."

The disaster, triggered by a build-up of methane, claimed the lives of 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African.

Investigators have criticised unsafe work practices at the mine and said it should never have been operating, although police said earlier this year there was insufficient evidence to bring manslaughter charges against its managers.

Pike River's former chief executive Peter Whittall has pleaded not guilty to 12 workplace safety charges, each carrying a maximum penalty of a $198 000, and is expected to go on trial early next year.

Work to allow re-entry into the mine is set to begin in October and is expected to take several months.

Read more on:    new zealand

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.