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NZDF assists Pike River re-entry operation

21 October 2013

NZDF assists Pike River re-entry operation

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges welcome the start of operations to re-enter Pike River Coal Mine’s main tunnel up to the rock fall.

“The Government has been working closely with Solid Energy to ensure the re-entry plan can be safely carried out. Safety is paramount, and the project will be carefully managed with a risk assessment undertaken at each stage,” says Mr Bridges.

The NZ Defence Force is providing assistance to Solid Energy. An Air Force NH90, supported by a team of NZ Army air lift operations personnel, will remove equipment and debris from the top of the ventilation shaft to clear the area for stage one of the project.

“This is the first time an Air Force NH90 helicopter has been tasked to support another government agency in this type of operation,” says Dr Coleman.

“The team were able to make an early start due to good weather and have already lifted a total of 25 tonnes of debris. They expect to transport up to 20 loads this week to complete this important phase of the re-entry project.

“The NH90 has twice the lifting capacity of civilian helicopters. It is an advanced medium utility helicopter with state-of-the-art technology, and the capability allows the Defence Force to undertake a wide variety of roles.”

Mr Bridges said the scope of the operation did not include entry into the main mine workings which is blocked by the rock fall.

“The Government cannot speculate on re-entering the main mine until the tunnel re-entry has been successfully achieved.”

For more information on the staged re-entry plan: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/all/files/Pike_River_exploration_diagram.pdf

[Scoop copy: Pike_River_exploration_diagram.pdf]

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