Police to release papers on decision over mine

18:55, Jan 18 2011

Police heading the Pike River operation have agreed to release documents detailing why they decided to abandon their efforts, a lawyer for some of the families says.

Barrister Nicholas Davidson QC said yesterday Police Commissioner Howard Broad had said the information would include reports and the advice police had received from experts and the Mines Rescue Trust.

"For the first time, we will be able to take that material and consult with our experts," Davidson said.

Broad had offered to meet the legal team to discuss the decision.

"The families are not unrealistic – they will examine this material carefully and reach a considered view whether the decision not to re-enter the mine and to seal it is the correct one," Davidson said.

If the families took the view that a safe entry could be achieved, they would urge the Government, police and trust to continue their work, he said.

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"Certainly, from the commission of inquiry's perspective, we regard it as very important to gain entry and to gain evidence."

The mine is due to be handed back to the receivers of Pike River Coal on January 29.

The families are to receive the material this week, and are expected to spend at least a week reviewing the documents, Davidson said.

The mine company's receivers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said on Monday work would continue for up to eight weeks to try to ensure stability of the mine's explosive environment, after police last week said they were ending their recovery operation.

Receiver John Fisk said yesterday it could take up to two years before anyone could re-enter the mine, and the recovery of the remains of the 29 men killed in the November tragedy was "very unlikely".

The Press