A remote ventilation (foam) plug has been physically installed in the Pike River Mine drift approximately 26m short of the roof fall.
Pike River Recovery Agency Chief Executive Dave Gawn says the complex operation carried out over several days involved more than 200 specific tasks.
“This is a significant milestone, and a critical element of the ventilation plan in ensuring the mine atmosphere is effectively controlled before recovery work beyond the 170m seal begins,” Mr Gawn says.
The “Rocsil” (brand name) plug will provide a separation barrier between the fresh air atmosphere in the drift, and the nitrogen and methane atmosphere of the mine workings.
All equipment, product and personnel were flown by helicopter to the ventshaft site last week. The product was heated to a temperature of 25deg C before being flown to the pumping site and then stored in a purpose-built heating facility before being pumped into the mine down borehole 48. The Agency was able to observe the installation through the use of cameras lowered down adjacent boreholes.
Wilson Mining Services owned by the Mastermyne Group from Australia installed the plug, supported by drillers from Eco Drilling, photographic specialists from Mainland Pipeline Inspections, and Agency mine workers. Helicopter support was provided by Garden City Helicopters.
Integrity testing is being conducted over the next few days to confirm the plug was working as it should be, Chief Operating Officer Dinghy Pattinson says.