18 September 2017
On 15 February 2017, the Government announced that it would support the investigation of an un-manned entry in the Pike River Mine drift and requested that Solid Energy stop activities relating to sealing the mine in the meantime. Terms of references for this project were finalised on 12 April 2017.
Since then, the team has been working with a range of experts to scope the technical requirements and undertake the necessary preparations for unmanned entry using a remote controlled vehicle.
After initially screening a range of possible technologies, the project team has been working with a preferred supplier of proven technology to supply a robot that is capable of being lowered into a borehole and deployed in the mine drift.
While the team considered the technology proposal from the Dean of Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), this option was not progressed because the design did not support entry through a borehole. Instead it required entry through the mine seals, and travelling a significant distance to gain access to the area of interest in the mine.
A range of activities are underway in support of having the robot enter the mine as soon as practicable, including preparation for the drilling of a new borehole and supplier modification of the robot to the exact functional specifications required.
Solid Energy has been providing updates on the unmanned entry project to the Pike River families’ representatives on a fortnightly basis and a comprehensive update on the project was published on Solid Energy’s website on 15 August 2017.
The project has been established with a standalone team, principally comprised of external contractors, who can carry out any work necessary after Solid Energy is no longer operational.