Pike River mine tunnel re-entry cost doubles to over $50m

Andrew Little
Andrew Little
The cost of recovering the entry tunnel to the Pike River mine has blown out dramatically.

Early estimates in 2017 put the price at $23million.

That has since doubled to $47million, and another $4million has been set aside as a contingency.

The increase was approved by Cabinet yesterday, along with a completion date of July or August this year.

The Government had originally said it would assess what was involved in moving into the mine’s main workings, once it had recovered the entry tunnel.

The 29 bodies are trapped in the main workings and are inaccessible because of a massive rockfall.

However Pike River Recovery Minister Andrew Little said yesterday work would finish once crews reached the rockfall.

‘‘The coalition Government remains committed to the safe and successful recovery and forensic examination of the Pike River drift.

‘‘It is important to promote accountability for what happened, to inform the ongoing criminal investigation into the tragedy, and to help prevent future tragedies,’’ he said.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor said the extra money was needed to complete what the Labour Party had committed to while in opposition.

The re-entry process had been slower than expected, he said.

However, he said it was important ‘‘the quest for information’’ was completed.

The re-entry covers only the 2.3km drift as far as the rockfall.

All but the last 400m of the drift has been viewed previously.

By last week, the re-entry had still only reached 395m.

The Government originally budgeted $7.6million a year for three years, totalling $23million.

It then bumped the budget to $36million and now $51million.

Extra funding has been signalled for some months, although not the amount.

The Pike River Recovery Agency expected it would most likely be possible to complete recovery work underground by July-August and hand the mine over to the Department of Conservation for management by the end of the year.

The symbolic re-entry happened in May 2019, but it was not until December that WorkSafe NZ accepted a Pike River Recovery Agency regulatory exemption request which cleared the way for the agency to begin work to recover the mine drift.

The Pike River Recovery Agency, based in Greymouth, has 39 staff listed on its website.

Comments

Would've been cheaper to pay the family's a million each and have been done with it.
Unintended consequences of grandstanding over a tragic event, something Labour seem the best at.
Oh the promises you can make when you don't expect to get the levers of power.
Kinda sucks you have to live up to your word no matter the cost to the taxpayer aye Andy?
Don't expect much else from a known Union bully boy

While I understand the grief of the families is difficult, this recovery operation needs to be delayed until the coronavirus pandemic has passed. Government and tax money is needed by the living for now.

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