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21/9/2018 — Conference Special
Pike Agency details work achieved and what’s ahead

A detailed explanation about what has occurred and is yet to occur with access into the damaged Pike River coal mine was provided to delegates at the AusIMM NZ Mining Conference by the chief operating officer of the Pike River Recovery Agency Dingy Pattinson.

The quest, he said, would be to recover where possible the remains of the 29 miners who perished in a methane blast eight years ago.

The agency was set up by the Coalition Government and Pattinson said it would be disestablished once the site has been rehabilitated and returned to the Department of Conservation.

He told delegates it was highly desirable to get a second means of egress into the mine and his presentations detailed several targets well away from the existing damaged portal. These locations perhaps could give more direct access deeper into the drift where the remains of most of the men would be.

Specialist equipment will require vehicle access in the mine tunnel, and some additional boreholes will be required. Nitogen would also be needed to purge the drift of methane.

The second portal could involve a 2 metres by 2m tunnel.

Pattinson said the second tunnel option would require detailed field inspection and site survey. Linked to this would be a geotechnical assessment of surrounding slopes, the portal area and tunnel.

There would also need to be hydrological and flood level assessments of the Pike stream.

Preliminary work has included the nitrogen plant contract being confirmed, with a plant expected on site on October 1; creation of emergency remote portal doors for which fabrication was underway; re-establishing electricity next month; and upgrade of helipads and access bridges, yet to be designed.

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