Technical experts gather in Greymouth today as a procurement process also starts to find contractors interested in physically recovering the Pike River Mine drift access tunnel.

Family Reference Group representatives Bernie Monk and Anna OsborneTechnical experts focus on the morning's presentationAgency Technical Expert Alliance workshop in RapahoeThe Agency Technical Expert Alliance workshop getting underway

There are two distinct areas of the mine: The mine drift and the mine workings. The drift is a 2.3km access tunnel from the portal (entrance) to the workings. The mine workings, where coal was being extracted, contain approximately 5.5km of tunnels. The workings are the last estimated location of the 29 workers who were in the mine when a methane explosion occurred in November 2010.  The workings are blocked by a large rockfall at the very end of the drift.

A panel of technical experts is meeting in Greymouth over the next four days to assist in the creation of a plan for safe manned re-entry of the drift.  Following that workshop, any feasible methodology for safely re-entering and recovering the drift will need to be confirmed and approved by the Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-Entry Hon Andrew Little. 

Through the current procurement process,  the agency is seeking a specialist supplier to both assist with developing a detailed plan to ensure it is feasible to carry out the work, and to undertake the approved manned re-entry and recovery works.  The supplier is also likely to be required to undertake mine sealing and rehabilitation works at the completion of the project, Agency Chief Operating Officer Dinghy Pattinson says.

“We are looking for a supplier who can demonstrate their track record in providing similar services, an ability to source specialist coal mining equipment and appropriately trained and qualified personnel to operate the equipment and who has robust health and safety culture and practices.  Until the re-entry and recovery plan is well advanced, the nature of the required work, required equipment and timeframes are not known.  These requirements will be refined alongside the plan,” Mr Pattinson says.

The mine staff currently being recruited by the agency will have statutory roles around monitoring, maintenance, and management of the mine site, which will be ongoing throughout the parallel re-entry of the drift. 

The Agency has published a Registration of Interest on the Government Electronic Tender Site  (GETS) seeking expressions of interest from suppliers who are interested and capable of providing the services.  Responses will be due by 9am on 18 May.  Following evaluation shortlisted respondents will be invited to submit a full proposal in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP). Only those respondents who have been shortlisted will be invited to submit a full proposal. 

Post-script:  The Registration of Interest closing date has been extended to 9am on 25 May.