Countdown on for Pike River Mine re-entry

The countdown is on for the Pike River Mine re-entry in three weeks' time, with the cost now set at $36 million.

On November 14, Minister Responsible for Pike River Andrew Little announced that cabinet had approved an additional $14m for the preferred re-entry option, bringing the total budgeted cost to $36m.

Mr Little's office said on Wednesday the Pike River Recovery Agency had advised the project was still on track to be delivered within the currently approved budget.

The re-entry begins on May 3 but is expected to take weeks. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Mr Little, and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage are all expected at the mine site that day.

The re-entry will be taken in 30 or 40m blocks at a time, as the team drags air and water pipes as it goes.

The re-entry effort is not into the mine workings, where the bodies of the 29 men are thought to lie. Entry to the mine itself is blocked by a massive rockfall.

The re-entry is to explore the 2.3km stone drift leading to the mine, as far as the rockfall. Only the last 400m of the drift has not been viewed since the explosions.

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