Monday 27 July 2020

Please visit the WorkSafe website to understand their approach during this time. 

letter from the Agency about the impact of COVID-19 on the Pike River Mine site.

Pike River Recovery Agency information to staff about the COVID-19 situation below:

Hi everyone, 
Welcome to the 10th edition Pike River Recovery Agency weekly staff update which includes information on uniting for the recovery from COVID-19 and operational matters. Please forward any contributions to me that would be of interest to the team.


Unite for the Recovery graphicWhat does the Government’s COVID-19 Plan entail?
The Government has a range of actions, including the Alert System (we’re on level one), border restrictions and testing.

Information about confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand:


At the end of last week we had reached 1450 metres.
• 17 new bolts were installed as required following geotech inspection
• Pull testing of existing bolts was completed in accordance with the Geotech TARP and operating procedure. All tested bolts passed
• Two tell-tales were installed
• The local contractor who is carrying out rehabilitation work has filled in seven ponds and carried out abutment work on two bridges. This section of the required rehabilitation work is now complete
• The underground refuge chamber was moved to be within 200 metres of the operational zone
• The CABA quick fill station was installed and commissioned underground in Stub 2
• Planning (including a JHA) was completed for the removal of the loader driven by Russell Smith was completed

Health & Safety

The Health and Safety Operational Weekly meeting was held at the mine site on Tuesday 21 July. Items discussed included:
• Safe work observations – Five observations were completed during the week by statutory officials. 19 observations have been completed so far this month against a target of 15
• Hazard: Incident ratio – the rolling monthly/annual ratio is 6:2 (3:1) against a target of at least 2:1
• Corrective actions being taken to address identified hazards
• Monitoring arrangements when the pre-shift statutory inspections are being carried out
• Completion of the regular weekly surface inspection (the possibility of sourcing additional fire extinguishers is now being investigated)
• Ongoing training
• Other safety improvements and initiatives
• Mines Rescue will be on site on 29 July to complete the inspections of CABA sets and emergency equipment underground.

Continuous improvement

• The final scheduled meeting of the group established to monitor the trial of the extended shift roster and other improvement initiatives was held on Tuesday 21 July. Further constructive feedback was provided about the operation and impact of the trial shifts. The feedback is now being worked through.
• From next week a second person will accompany the person carrying out the daily pre-shift statutory inspection underground. The inspection itself will still be carried out on foot as required by the regulations. The second person will drive behind in a vehicle with CABA sets on board. This vehicle will then being used for both people to leave the drift more quickly than walking out.
• The new second refuge chamber which was delivered to the site last week will be commissioned over coming weeks.
Update on the notifiable fire incident with a portable generator on the hill
• The ICAM investigation into this incident is underway. We are waiting on the report from the fire investigator and the final report will then be finalised and signed off by the Mine Manager and the Site Senior Executive. Controls have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident occurring again.
• This week the generator on the vent shaft will be relocated, the generator will be serviced, and additional cameras will be installed to make sure that the generator can be seen and monitored by the Control Room Operator.

WorkSafe visit

WorkSafe inspectors visited the site last week to review the JHA for the removal of the loader driven by Russell Smith, review plans for Pit Bottom in Stone with the Ventilation Officer, and complete an underground inspection. Some minor matters were raised by the inspectors which were rectified before they left the site.

Family and FRG members
New Zealand Police will be on site to film and photograph the recovered loader driven by Russell Smith at the time of the first mine explosion in 2010, as it emerges from the drift and is taken to the helicopter landing area opposite the lower administration buildings. Family members will be able to watch the recovery from the Families Room on site in the lower administration buildings.

Health, Safety and Wellbeing Steering Committee
The Steering Committee met on Wednesday 22 July and decided to commission MinServ International (a member of the Agency’s technical panel) to conduct a series of independent underground and surface audits against the Agency’s Principal Control Plans to provide additional independent assurance to the management team about how well requirements are being met.

From the Office (Wellington and Greymouth)
The office team is focused on:
• The expense disclosure for the Chief Executive for the year ended 30 June 2020 was today published on the Agency and websites
• Preparations continue for the external audit of the Agency that is planned to commence from 9 to 14 September (tentative).
• Continuing to provide day to day HR, IT and administrative support to the mine-based personnel.
• Making arrangements for the latest regular Staff Engagement Survey in which all Agency staff will be invited and encouraged to participate
• Shaping the conflict of interest declaration for use by the person or people selected by the FRG and families to go underground as an observer at key stages of the recovery operation. Procuring the services of a replacement commercial cleaning company for both the mine site and Greymouth office, as the current supplier has given notice they are withdrawing services from the West Coast.
• Working in conjunction with the Site Senior Executive and the selected service provider to finalise arrangements for the session for mine based personnel on managing fatigue which will be held on 4 August. Additional sessions will be held on 17 and 18 August.
• Supporting the FRG and NZ Police with the programme of activity around recovery and removal of the loader driven by Russell Smith.
• Regular briefings to the Agency’s external auditors on the re-entry and recovery work programme.

Media requests
A media site visit is scheduled for Monday 3 August, focusing on the loader driven by Russell Smith at the time of the first mine explosion in 2010. All equipment media plan to bring to the site has been itemised to be checked by Agency staff as to whether any introductions to site might be necessary.

A documentary crew will most likely visit the site the day before the loader is recovered, to film the pre-shift meeting and other activities happening on the surface. They are producing a publicly funded documentary about the recovery efforts.

Should any staff be approached by media, please contact the Principal External Relations Advisor – Communication.

Confidential support – EAP

EAP support contact details image

Take care everyone and stay safe!
Have a great week.

Best regards


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms include a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza and do not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.  If you have these symptoms call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your local doctor for the most up to date professional advice.  If you are severely unwell, for example having trouble breathing, contact emergency services.

What should I do about work if I’m showing symptoms?
First, contact Healthline or your doctor.  Let your manager know what’s happening.  

How do I protect myself?
You should always practice good hygiene by: 

  • covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues, or cough/sneeze into your elbow – that catches the droplets and stops them getting on your hands.
  • washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap, and drying them thoroughly:
  • before eating or handling food
  • after using the toilet
  • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
  • after caring for sick people
  • after handling pets.

People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice good cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues, and wash hands). If you have concerns, you can contact the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

The Government website is the source of truth for all information.