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Source: New Zealand Government

The critical area for forensic examination known as Pit Bottom in Stone has been reached in what is a major milestone for the Pike River re-entry project, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little announced.

“The infrastructure located in Pit Bottom in Stone is of very significant interest in determining why 29 men went to work on 19 November 2010 and never came home,” Andrew Little said.

“The Coalition Government, with the support of its Confidence and Supply Partner, made a commitment through the coalition agreement to fulfil the original promise made to the families of the 29 miners and workers: to do everything practicably possible to re-enter the drift and to better understand the cause or causes of the original explosion on 19 November 2010. We are a substantial way in delivering on that commitment,” Andrew Little said.

The recovery and forensics of the Pit Bottom in Stone roadways are complex. The current plan consists of the following:

  • A hazard assessment, inspection and initial forensic scan will be carried out of all the PBIS roadways
  • Any necessary work to manage identified hazards will be done
  • The roadway entrances off the side of the drift will then be barricaded off to prevent entry except for required statutory inspections
  • Recovery of the drift will continue up to the existing Rocsil plug at 2,240 metres.  This section of about 360 metres will require extensive re-support work and the removal of a debris field so it could take up to 2 months (assuming no unexpected conditions that are not currently known)
  • A rated ventilation control device (VCD) will be constructed on the mine portal/entrance side of the Rocsil plug which is very close to the large roof fall at the end of the drift
  • Once this has been done all of the Pit Bottom in Stone roadways will be fully recovered and detailed forensic examination of the various items of interest there will be carried out

“Undertaking forensics on this area is going to require some additional expert guidance as the area is being treated as a crime scene. The Pike River Recovery Agency will be working through this with the New Zealand Police,” Andrew Little said.