Trust plan to help recover the bodies of Pike River miners

By Jarrod Booker

Pike River mine blast. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Pike River mine blast. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A multimillion-dollar trust is being planned to continue efforts to recover workers' remains from the Pike River mine, and the taxpayer is being asked to contribute.

Work is continuing at the mine to reach the remains of the 29 workers who died in explosions 14 months ago - which some families say they need to move on.

However, as receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers prepares to sell the mine to new owners in the coming months, there is uncertainty over who will pay for any ongoing recovery efforts.

The receivers have money set aside only for reclaiming 2.3km of the tunnel up to a rockfall blocking off the rest of the mine.

A meeting in the next few weeks between Grey Mayor Tony Kokshoorn - who is promoting the trust idea - Prime Minister John Key and the receivers is expected to explore how it could be put together and funded.

Mr Kokshoorn said Mr Key had indicated to him that the Government would contribute towards the trust, which he expected would have money from different parties totalling $12 million to $15 million for the recovery operations.

"We need to get something firmly in place that will keep the recovery going."

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said: "The Prime Minister has agreed to meet with Mr Kokshoorn, at his request. It is premature for the Prime Minister to comment about the issues for discussion or likely outcome of the meeting at this stage.

"The Prime Minister appreciates the interest of the West Coast and the families in making progress on recovering the bodies of the deceased [workers] if this proves at all possible."

Receiver John Fisk said he was open to ideas about how best to operate a trust.

There had been discussion with the potential new mine owner about setting money aside from the sale to put into a trust.

"The suggestion at the moment is they might pay X for the [mine] assets, and Y would be put aside in a trust to be used for that recovery exercise. I can't really comment on numbers at the moment. A lot will come down to negotiation with whoever the stakeholders are that are going to contribute to it."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 19 Dec 2014 04:29:54 Processing Time: 447ms