A spokesman for some of the families killed in the Pike River mine explosion has described revelations that the mine has been safe to re-enter since last October as "absolutely heartbreaking".

An Official Information Act (OIA) request revealed WorkSafe New Zealand and Mine Rescue's advice to Solid Energy was that it was technically feasible to re-enter the mine, TV3's Campbell Live programme said.

It is nearly four years since 29 men died in explosions in the mine on the West Coast.

A staged plan to re-enter the mine and explore the tunnel up to a rock fall about 2.3km in from the mine portal had been approved and the Government had committed $7.2 million to the effort.


Moving into the tunnel or drift was seen as the first step to recovering the remains of the miners.

A spokesman for some of the families killed in the explosion, Bernie Monk, this morning told Radio New Zealand that the families had been in contact with Solid Energy and and the Government every two weeks.

"We've known all along that this has been safe to re-enter and they continuously tell us that they're working on a safe re-entry. This has been going on for months and months and months.

"Every time we ask Solid Energy 'what are the risk assessments that are holding you up' they refuse to answer us."

A lawyer representing the families had been asked to find out what was holding up the mine re-entry, Mr Monk said.

"It's heartbreaking for a lot of them. For somebody like myself and a few of us that have been on this every day, we take

"For families that aren't at the coal face as the speakers like we are, it's absolutely heartbreaking, there's tears shed and it's quite frustrating for us to see the families as upset as they are."

The proposal to re-enter the mine had been beset by delays, the latest in August when Solid Energy announced "potentially fatal risks" still needed to be examined before attempting to enter.


The OIA revealed there were no safety or operational barriers to re-entry and that had been Worksafe's and Mine Rescue's advice since October 2013.

Grey Mayor Tony Kokshoorn last night told Campbell Live Solid Energy had let the West Coast community down and put victims' families on an emotional roller coaster ride.

To hear the company had hidden behind health and safety claims while the former Labour Department had advised it was feasible and ok to go down was frustrating, he said.

"We had been led to believe there was a safety aspect to not entering the drift."

All anyone wanted was for the company to go down the drift and eliminate any possibility there were bodies down there, he said.

Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford was invited to appear on the programme but did not.

- additional reporting APNZ