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Process under way to hand mine back to Pike River

Process under way to hand mine back to Pike River

Police Commissioner Howard Broad today met with the management of Pike River and various government agencies in Greymouth to discuss the process for handing control of the Pike River mine back to the company.

Commissioner Broad explained that the police role to this point has been to coordinate the emergency response and incident management. This has involved coordination of technical advice on what is a safe response to a dangerous, changing and volatile environment.

"With the GAG in place the mine is more stable, the fire in the vent is out and there is time to plan for the next steps.

"Therefore the operation has come to a point where our emergency response role is coming to a natural end point.

"Entry to the mine is not likely in the medium term and the coroner is satisfied that he has sufficient evidence for his purposes. The Police and Department of Labour are making realistic judgments about the value of mine entry for their investigation purposes.

"A factor in this process is that the likelihood of being able to conduct a full scene examination has been mitigated by damage from the subsequent explosions.

"It is now appropriate to begin the process for the company to take back control of its mine.

The Commissioner stressed that the Police primary interest remains in the recovery of the men, should this ever be possible.

"The recovery of any evidence will be subject to the technical and safety assessments the mine company will make as part of reviewing its access and use of the mine in the future.

"There will be a period of time before the handover and from there Pike River will no doubt be assessing its options for the future. They have some significant hurdles to overcome to operate a safe mine."

Those at the meeting also included representatives from the Department of Labour, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Conservation, Crown Law, NZ Fire Service, NZ Oil and Gas and NZ Mines Rescue.

Commissioner Broad said the mine management were best placed to run the process from this point, and this will happen in conjunction with the Department of Labour with their key interest in safety.

Commissioner Broad met with families in Greymouth today to inform them of the discussions and explain the process under way


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