Pike River mining disaster families to meet Solid Energy on the West Coast

Pike River families protest at the mine gates.
JOANNE CARROLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Pike River families protest at the mine gates.

Solid Energy representatives are meeting with Pike River families in Greymouth.

The meeting on Wednesday marks the first time the government-owned mining business has met with families of the 2010 West Coast mining disaster victims since protests against the mine being sealed began. 

Some family members and supporters have been protesting on the mine access road since November 12.

Pike River families and supporters protest the mine being sealed and ask contractors to down tools.
JOANNE CARROLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Pike River families and supporters protest the mine being sealed and ask contractors to down tools.

Work on sealing the mine was stalled when some workers and contractors agreed to pleas from the families to down tools. 

Allied Concrete confirmed it would not work at Pike River because it did not want to inflame the "emotional trauma" being caused to families.

READ MORE:
Contractors confronted at Pike River
Allied concrete pulls out of Pike River seal contract
Pike River producer hopes docudrama will promote empathy with families
Pike protest ends with threats of arrest as mine sealing confirmed to go ahead
​* Pike River father Bernie Monk says mine is safe for reentry
Full coverage: Pike River mine disaster

Pike River families held a memorial at Blackball this month to mark the sixth anniversary of the disaster.
JASON BLAIR/SUPPLIED

Pike River families held a memorial at Blackball this month to mark the sixth anniversary of the disaster.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the disaster, said only one outcome from the meeting would be acceptable.

"We want re-entry to the drift to recover remains and evidence. It's what we were promised and it's the only way this will be resolved," she said. 

"International and local mining experts say the drift can be safely re-entered. I've personally had offers from mines rescue experts to crew it. The only thing standing in the way is the politics of who owns the mine.

The Pike River mine portal. Plans to seal the mine have upset some family members.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

The Pike River mine portal. Plans to seal the mine have upset some family members.

"We're simply not going to walk away and let our loved ones and the knowledge of what happened to them be permanently sealed away."

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She said sources had told families a quarter of a metre of concrete was in place over the new stainless steel wall in the mine drift – a 2.5km tunnel leading into the mine. 

Solid Energy is sealing the mine with a 20-metre thick concrete wall to allow the area to be returned to the Department of Conservation for inclusion in the Paparoa National Park.

Environment Minister Nick Smith met families recently and told them a safe re-entry was not possible because of the risk of more explosions and rockfall.  

Some family members have launched a legal challenge to a WorkSafe directive that the permanent seal had to be complete by February and a smaller seal by November.

 - Stuff

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