Solid Energy confirms that the video footage of Mines Rescue workers setting up a robot in the Pike River drift and the robot travelling 1570 metres up the drift was taken into account by the company’s experts as part of the risk assessment for the mine re-entry.
Solid Energy Chief Executive Tony King said the footage was amongst the 28 hours of raw video footage made available to the company and reviewed by risk assessment team members.
“There is nothing in the footage that contradicts the ultimate decision that manned re-entry of the mine is unsafe. The risks around re-entry do not centre around the conditions in the first part of the drift – which is what is shown in this footage. As has been previously documented, the significant re-entry risks are mainly beyond the part of the drift that has been explored by robot.” said Mr King.
It is this upper part of the drift that is the initial focus of the unmanned exploration project that is currently underway, he said.
Mr King said that two material facts have been overlooked in the commentary on the significance of this video evidence.
“At the time of this video, the drift was filled with nitrogen so the fact that there was no fire triggered when the robot malfunctioned is irrelevant to the risks associated with the drift now being filled with methane.”
“We also note that the workers shown in the drift are in the first few metres and this is very different to the risks associated with being deep into the drift. You cannot assert from this footage that this shows that re-entry could be safely undertaken.”
Solid Energy is now working with government agencies and the families on potential unmanned re-entry options and is progressing this work with technical experts.