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Pike families continue to protest at mine

Wednesday 30 Nov 2016 4:25 p.m.

A protest at the mine entrance earlier this month (Facebook/file)

A protest at the mine entrance earlier this month (Facebook/file)

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Families of the victims of the Pike River disaster will continue to protest at the mine site after a "total refusal" of mine owner Solid Energy to discuss re-entry.

Families met with the owners on Wednesday for the first time since a cement company pulled out of a project to seal the site.

Amid protests, Allied Concrete last week announced it would halt supply of cement to seal the mine until a dispute about re-entering the site was resolved.

The families of the 29 men killed in the 2010 disaster say they want the miners' bodies recovered, but Solid Energy says the mine is full of methane and too dangerous to re-enter.

Families have been occupying the main access road to the mine for 16 days and say they will return again on Thursday after a meeting in Greymouth.

Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the mine, said there was no point trying to deal with the company any longer.

"The Prime Minister is the one who made the promise to get our boys out, and he should front up himself rather than sending his monkeys to deliver the hard word," he said.

"What makes it worse is the seal already in place complies with Worksafe's conditions. There's absolutely no need to pour 30 metres of concrete in there. It feels like they're just doing it because they want this whole thing to go away."

The families believe it is safe to enter and remove evidence, and "that's what's going to happen".

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton was killed, said she had personally had offers from mines rescue experts to crew a re-entry.

"We're simply not going to walk away and let our loved ones and the knowledge of what happened to them be permanently sealed away," she said.

But Solid Energy maintains their position that it's unsafe to enter the mine and said last week the withdrawal of Allied Concrete wouldn't stop the mine being sealed by early 2017.

"The reality is that for the entire time since Solid Energy took over Pike River Mine in 2012, the drift has been full of nearly pure methane," the company said.

It said the first stage of sealing had already been completed - although it said it was "technically reversible" - and said the concrete would just complete a second stage to strengthen the seal.

NZN

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