16 Dec 2010

Recovery operation likely to cost $10m by year end

4:33 pm on 16 December 2010

The receiver for Pike River Coal says the operation to recover the bodies of 29 men from the mine has cost up to $5 million so far and could reach $10 million by Christmas.

Pike River Coal Ltd went into receivership on Monday following an explosion at the West Coast mine on 19 November which killed the workers and curtailed all production.

The recovery operation has so far been funded by police, who have announced their intention to hand over control to the mining company.

Receiver John Fisk of PricewaterhouseCoopers told Nine to Noon on Thursday the GAG machine alone costs $10,000 an hour to run.

The machine, a modified jet engine being used to neutralise dangerous gases in the mine, is running constantly, he says.

Mr Fisk says Pike River Coal is not in a position to meet such costs, but the receivers are keen to explore getting access to the mine and is working with government departments to see whether a plan can be put together to achieve that.

Nitrogen generator arrives

A nitrogen generator that will help prevent further explosions at the mine has arrived from Australia.

The 20-tonne machine will be transported to the site by truck to the site and should be there this weekend.

It will pump nitrogen into the mine to help lower the temperature and neutralise the atmosphere.

Police have almost finished boring another hole into the mine and will soon begin work on another.

Operation commander Superintendent Gary Knowles says the holes are possible entry points for the nitrogen and will also allow gas samples to be gathered from further inside the mine.