The Grey District Mayor says a possible 3½ years is too long to wait for the recovery of the bodies in the Pike River coal mine.
An independent review has concluded that if the mine is sold, recovering the 29 men who died in explosions in November 2010, could be completed by June 2015.
The lawyer for the families, who commissioned the review, says the report is their first assessment of a timeframe for the recovery operation.
Nicholas Davidson QC says no-one has taken responsibility for a recovery plan since the police handed over responsibilities to the receivers early last year.
But the Grey District mayor, Tony Kokshoorn, says 2015 is a long time to wait.
Mr Kokshoorn says, in the next few weeks, workers are expected to reach 2.3km down into the mine, which will put them within 100 metres of the mens' bodies.
"I don't know why it takes that long, I haven't had that information given to me yet, but I feel it is too lengthy a time to wait."
Mr Kokshoorn says the families won't have closure until the bodies are returned to them.
Mr Davidson says a purchaser will need to be able to safely access the mine and if they can do so to get the coal, then they can also get the bodies.
He says a buy-out is the best-case scenario.