Quarrying & Mining Magazine

Preparing to enter Pike River

The Pike River Recovery Agency, tasked with the Pike River Re-entry, is based in Greymouth. The agency was set up this year with a specific purpose: to develop a plan for safe manned re-entry to the mine drift; to provide advice to Andrew Little (the Minister Responsible for the Pike River Re-entry) on whether that could be safely achieved; and to oversee the implementation of that plan if it goes ahead.

A panel of technical experts met in Greymouth at the end of April for a four-day session to assist in the creation of a plan for safe manned re-entry of the Pike River drift.

THE MINE WAS transferred from Solid Energy to the agency back in February 2018, which means it now has the full responsibility for all aspects of mine management and is subject to the relevant regulatory obligations.

Agency chief executive, Dave Gawn, a former Major General in the New Zealand Army and appointed just before Christmas in 2017, has moved briskly to make the agency operative.

“The next task for the agency is to assess how safe recovery of the drift may be undertaken – taking into account the range of existing information, including Solid Energy documents obtained on transfer of record, and drawing on expert technical advice,” he says.

After Dave’s appointment late in 2017, other key positions were filled early in 2018. Among these is a former Spring Creek Mine manager, Dinghy Pattinson, who was appointed chief operating officer for the agency in March. Pattinson is from Greymouth and brings more than 40 years’ underground mining experience to the role with numerous mining qualifications, including first-class mine manager certificates, along with a post-graduate diploma in coalmine strata control from the University of New South Wales. He has also been involved with the New Zealand Mines Rescue Service for the past 33 years.

Dinghy will manage the operational elements of the mine re-entry work programme and will have responsibility for ensuring activities at the mine comply with statutory health and safety requirements. While other key positions have been filled, the agency was still recruiting mine staff in April to fill mining statutory roles. All roles are fixed term until June 2019.


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