A concept plan to re-enter the drift of the Pike River Mine where 29 men lost their lives has been completed as the Government continues its commitment to return the bodies to their families.

Today, Pike River Minister Andrew Little will meet with family representatives of the Pike River Mine disaster.

Little told Newstalk ZB that technical experts had consulted on the prospect of re-entering the drift at the Pike River Mine and agreed although it was very complex, it was still feasible.

"Once you get into the detail, it is more challenging than they had thought.


"We now have a concept plan. Before I sign off on that I want to engage with the families on it and see if they are happy with it."

He would tell the families where the planning had gotten to.

Andrew Little will today update the families of the Pike River miners on plans to re-enter the mine. Photo / File
Andrew Little will today update the families of the Pike River miners on plans to re-enter the mine. Photo / File

Once he had the blessing of the families he would sign off on the concept and more detailed planning would commence, he said.

Beginning the re-entry project could begin at the end of the year but it would take months to enter the 2.4km drift fully.

All going well, the recovery of the 29 bodies would be completed by mid-2019.

He hoped the families would be happy with the proposed plans.

"They have seen the careful consideration.

"I'd be surprised if they were not keen to sign off."

Last month police announced a new investigation into the Pike River Mine explosion was to be opened, five years after they had closed their original one.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers was in Greymouth in June, meeting with the Pike River Recovery Agency and representatives of families of the 29 men killed during the methane blast eight years ago.

"The purpose was to discuss the police role and processes to come regarding planning for re-entry to the drift.

"Those discussions raised the option of a police member being seconded to work closely with the Pike River Recovery Agency, albeit remotely," Police said in a statement.

As well as Chambers visiting last week, Commissioner Mike Bush met with affected families in 2017 for the first time since police closed the case in 2013.

"... to express police support for the re-entry planning, as well as police commitment to completion of investigative steps if re-entry to the drift was achieved."

Pike River Mine is 46km northeast of Greymouth.

On November 19, 2010 a methane blast at the mine trapped and killed 29 workers inside, where they remain today.

Any new evidence found would be assessed to determine what, if any relevance it had on the original investigation which concluded in July 2013, police said.