5 Jul 2011

Pike River bidders not put off by recovery requirement

11:33 am on 5 July 2011

The receivers for the Pike River mine say bidders have not been scared off by a demand they must have a plan to recover the remains of 29 workers.

The men died after a series of explosions which began at the West Coast mine on 19 November last year.

The Government has announced that a credible plan to recover the remains will be a condition of obtaining a mining permit.

Receiver Malcolm Hollis of PricewaterhouseCoopers told Morning Report that all potential buyers acknowledge and understand the requirement and are determining what they need to do. He says none have been put off by the Government's directive.

Acting Energy and Resources Minister Hekia Parata says it's a possibility that the buyer might change their mind about retrieving the bodies - but she says recovery plans will be thoroughly checked before a buyer is approved.

She told Morning Report that all applications to New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals - the body that manages the Government's oil, gas, minerals and coal resources - are subjected to the highest scrutiny by people who are expert in the technicalities.

"Those work plans are only approved when NZPM is confident that they are appropriate and are capable of being implemented."

Hekia Parata says she does not expect the Government will help pay to recover the remains.

Recovery plan 'heading in right direction'

A union representing miners says the Pike River receivers and the Government seem to be heading in the right direction in terms of the recovery of the remains

Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little says the union will be keeping a close watch on how things progress.

He says he would hate to see a situation where if commercial viability can be achieved, the focus is then diverted from recovering the bodies.

A lawyer representing the families of those killed, Nick Davidson QC, says a big issue for relatives would be if a purchaser was to acquire the mine with no fundamental intention of trying to recover the remains.

Mr Davidson says the families now have the back-up of the Prime Minister's statement on a recovery plan, the contract itself and union support.

Pike River Coal Ltd was put in receivership in December.