Pike River mine site handed over to DOC and salvage agency for closure
More than 12 years after the Pike River mine disaster, the mine site will be handed over to the Department of Conservation.
The Pike River Reclamation Agency will be disbanded and the mine will be managed by DOC for inclusion in the Paparoa Track.
The agency was set up in January 2018 to re-enter the mine gallery in hopes of finding out why 29 men died in a series of explosions in November 2010 and providing evidence for the police criminal investigation.
The government originally budgeted $7.6 million a year for three years, for a total of $23 million. He then increased his budget to $36 million and then to $51 million.
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The agency’s acting chief executive, Michelle Wessing, said the agency was completing rehabilitation work at the mine site this week. From April 1, the site would be handed over to the DOC, which had confirmed that the rehabilitation met the required standards.
The agency will be disbanded on June 30 but its Greymouth office will close when its lease expires on April 29.
Wessing said total unaudited operating expenses were $48 million.
Minister responsible for Pike River reintegration, Andrew Little, said it was the end of a stage in the “ongoing journey for justice for families, rather than a moment of triumph or celebration”.
“The government has achieved what it set out to do. This is to recover the drift, gather new evidence and allow the police to resume their investigation,” he said.
DOC Pike River Mine Transition Project Manager Tom Hopkins said he was preparing to manage the site.
The works included the follow-up of the rehabilitation works of the agency, the organization of the changeover of the services and the implementation of contracts for the monitoring of the atmosphere of the mine and the water discharges from the mining gallery.
The DOC had a two-stage plan to open the Pike River Valley to the public. The first step was to open the Pike 29 Memorial Track and the Pike River Road by Christmas 2022.
The 11.6km Pike 29 Memorial Track will be part of New Zealand’s new Great Walk the Paparoa Track which winds through Paparoa National Park from Blackball to Punakaiki. It has been under construction since August 2017 but the contractor stopped work while the agency finished its operations.
The contractor had been back on site for a month and, all going well, would complete construction of the Pike29 Memorial Track in time for Christmas, Hopkins said.
The 55 kilometer West Coast Trail, designed for hikers and mountain bikers, opened in 2019.
The Pike 29 Memorial Trail will run past the mine gate and include an interpretive center, where exhibits and memorabilia tell the story of the mine, the disaster and the resulting changes in mine requirements. health and safety.
Hopkins said detailed design of the mine’s interpretive facilities and work on the road and bridges to ensure they are suitable for public use was underway.
“We hope to carry out the physical works on the road and install interpretive facilities, signage etc. between September and December this year,” he said.
The second stage of the plan was to prepare the memorial at the mine gate and the interpretation center at the former administrative area by April 2024.
Detailed design had just begun and was expected to be completed by April 2023. However, design of some interpretive materials would continue through September 2023.
The construction, including the fit-up of the interpretation centre, was to be carried out between July 2023 and April 2024.
“All of these dates are our best estimate at this time and may be affected by weather conditions and supply chain issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
The budget was $3.8 million.
Meanwhile, Detective Commissioner of Police Peter Read said 14 police personnel were continuing his investigation.
Police decided in 2013 to leave the criminal investigation open until the scene could be investigated.
The police took evidence from the mine gallery and completed the drilling of 10 boreholes to look inside the mine workings. They previously announced footage of six remains and two other possible bodies were captured by borehole cameras.