John Fisk, Receiver of Pike River Coal Limited (In Receivership), advised today “there are a number of international parties that are interested in the mine but they each have their own internal processes to follow which will take longer than we had initially hoped. Therefore, we don’t expect to be signing a sale agreement this side of Christmas.”
The receivers expect the sale to include the establishment of a trust that will help oversee efforts to enter the main area of the mine and facilitate recovery of any remains. “We expect the purchaser to prepare a detailed plan and timetable, use best endeavours to carry out body recovery and to have set aside funds to be used for that purpose. As noted previously, unfortunately no one can give any guarantees to the families about re-entry of the mine’s main workings or how long that process may take. Everyone involved understands how anxious the families are to recover their loved ones, but this will be an extremely complex task and safety is paramount.”
Work to seal and ventilate the mine access tunnel continues. Drilling of a borehole has commenced in conjunction with preparatory work for the injection of a foaming chemical that will be injected into the mine to create a seal at the rock fall located at the top end of the access tunnel. While there remain a number of challenges ahead within the process for reclaiming of the tunnel and the outcome is not guaranteed, it is hoped the process will be completed in February.
John Fisk said “it is pleasing to see the Tunnel Reclamation Project is underway. The efforts to reclaim the tunnel would not be possible without the hard work of the Pike River staff who have been retained to manage this task and the support of secured creditor New Zealand Oil & Gas Limited.”
At the same time, staff from Pike and the receivers have been working with the families’ independent project manager to understand the complexity and timing of the challenges relating to the recovery of the tunnel and the mine.