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Government confirms plan to re-enter Pike River Mine drift will proceed - 'It is now our intention to get this job done'

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Mr Little outlined the Government’s plan in Wellington today, eight years after 29 men died in the mine. Source: Breakfast

Plans to re-enter the West Coast mine drift will proceed, says Pike River Re-Entry Minister Andrew Little.

"We are returning," he announced today. 

"It is now our intention to get this job done, and try find out why those 29 men who went to work on 19 November 2010, and never came home."

Mr Little said he was satisfied there was a safe way of re-entry, which consisted of the single entry plan that was recommended by the Pike River Agency. 

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Mrs Osborne said it was a “truly amazing day” for many of the families. Source: 1 NEWS

It involved entering the drift using the existing access tunnel, which is "by far the safest option". 

"The process we've gone through to plan a safe re-entry has been extensive and robust.

"Experts from around the world have spent the months examining details of all the risks pertaining to each option.

"The planned method of re-entry will be made safe through the use of controls, in line with mining standards around the world."

Mr Little says the re-entry is likely to begin in February, by breaching the 30m seal. $14 million of funding has been approved, with the total cost being $36 million.

Mr Little said the re-entry plan had been the subject of "rigorous" testing.  

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Milton Osborne was one of 29 men who never made it home from Pike River Mine in November 2010. Source: Breakfast

"The people of New Zealand can rest assured that this re-entry plan is achieveable.

"Nothing will be rushed." 

He was "incredibly privileged" to make the announcement.

Anna Osborne, who lost her husband Milton, said it was a fantastic day for the Pike River families.

"We've fought really hard for our men for a really long time. This is a victory for the families and for the little people in New Zealand."

"For our men, we couldn't just let things lie.

"It's a truly amazing day."

She said New Zealand's work place safety needed to change.

Background

Twenty-nine men died in Pike River Mine in November 2010.

In July, the Pike River Recovery Agency produced three options that were to be further developed. This included, building a tunnel to the Pit Bottom in Stone area, drilling a borehole and re-entering the main drift with no second exit.  

The best and safest of those plans was to go to Pike Recovery Minister Andrew Little.

Last month on TVNZ1's Q+A, John Campbell went to Pike River for the latest update on re-entry. 

Agency CEO Dave Gawn told Campbell he would not take a plan to Mr Little unless he was confident they were "in a space to make a recommendation of a course of action that is both technically feasible and safe to undertake". 

He said there was "still a lot of stuff that we don't know", such as the condition of the drift.

"But we know we can get inside safely."

Campbell described the progress already being done to prepare for re-entry as "major work, which in part is about getting the methane out of the mine and getting nitrogen in".