The recovery and forensic examination of the loader driven by survivor Russell Smith means the underground team are now moving into an area of the Pike River Mine that has not been seen since the explosion, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little said.
“The fifth and last robot was recovered before the loader, and now there’s several hundred metres of previously unexplored drift and roadways in the Pit Bottom in Stone area that have not been seen since 2010. We’ve reached a significant point in the recovery which is about trying to find out why the 29 men who went to work on 19 November 2010 didn’t come home.
“As always health and safety is a bottom line for the Agency. There are still many unknowns in the unexplored drift ahead. And recovery operations will continue to be significant and complex.
“As we’ve said from the start, it is unlikely that human remains will be recovered. But we will complete the recovery of the drift as we set out to do, in order to offer the families closure, to promote accountability for this tragedy and to help prevent future mining tragedies,” Andrew Little said.