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Any evidence found by miners entering Pike River mine won't be compromised, Recovery Agency says

A top miner is defending the decision for mining staff to take the lead on the Pike River re-entry operation.

Miners have undergone training in police forensics after it was announced yesterday police would not enter the Pike River mine until the entrance is entirely accessible or critical evidence was found.

Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning he was not concerned about the decision.

When asked by host Jack Tame if there was a chance anything ended up in court - that lawyers could argue it was handled incorrectly because the people collecting the evidence were miners not forensic experts, Mr Pattinson said it was up to police to manage.

"The police have got the responsibility of any evidence or anything like that ... everything is documented, and that's part of our training as well, and they will ensure that that happens correctly."

"We're the hands on their two kilometre long arms.

"We'll be in communication with police and if we find anything we'll be able to come outside and have discussions."

Mr Pattinson said he was happy with the decision because it would mean less worry about "keeping an eye on non-mining people" while the job was carried out.

Mining staff underwent training all this week which included basic awareness on how not to disturb the scene, how to identify anything of interest, how to handle evidence and transport evidence, photography, and what to wear.

Police said their decision had approval from the Pike River Recovery Agency and WorkSafe and came after careful discussion with experts.

"What you've got to understand is a mining environment is different, and that our team of people have got years mining experience," Mr Pattinson said.

"We're not going to be trained to be forensic experts - the police are going to be on site every day that we're underground."

Police said if it was safe to do so they would step in if any critical evidence was found. Critical evidence could include human remains, or it could be something that is involved in the investigation of what caused the explosions, Mr Pattinson said.

The recovery team are on target with the plan. They won't be able to enter the mine before the end of February but things were going "extremely well", Mr Pattinson said.

Within the next week the last of the three drill holes will be complete, more than 90 per cent of the nitrogen lines have been run over the mountain, emergency doors had been installed, and contracts have been signed to bring equipment over from Australia, he said.

Police declined the opportunity to speak to Breakfast today.

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    PRRA’s Dinghy Pattinson explains the decision for mining staff to enter Pike River before police. Source: Breakfast