State-owned company Solid Energy wants to buy the Pike River Coal mine on the West Coast with a view to reopening it in the future.
Chief operating officer Barry Bragg says the company has made a submission to the receivers of the mine PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Twenty-nine men were killed at the mine in a series of explosions that began on 19 November last year.
Mr Bragg says Solid Energy is the natural choice to take over the assets of the mine and will make it a priority to recover the bodies.
He says it could be years before the mine is able to be commercially operated again, but does not want to see it obtained by an investment company which will bank the asset in a resource portfolio.
He believes Solid Energy offers the best hope of recovering the men and getting the mine operating again.
Mr Bragg says it will cost a considerable amount of money to retrieve the bodies and the company is committed to doing that.
However, he says the families should not expect that the receivers or the Government will launch a recovery operation.
Mr Bragg says the receiver has indicated it wants the company sold by August this year and that will be too soon for a recovery operation to be mounted.