Pike River re-entry team 'pretty pumped' to head inside mine - Patrick Gower

The team charged with re-entering the Pike River Mine is raring to go, Newshub's national correspondent Patrick Gower says.

On Friday May 3, a three-person team will head 170m inside the mine, past an area previously sealed with concrete.

Gower told The AM Show on the eve of re-entry the people working at the mine are excited for the day to arrive.

"People working up there, they wouldn't say it publicly but they are pretty pumped about getting in there, getting on with the job and actually a big job for them."

It's hoped deeper expeditions into the mine at a later date will find more evidence or even bodies left behind after explosions in November 2010.

"The cause of the explosion has never been identified because they've never been in. There's a whole lot of evidence in there, there's an electrical substation," Gower said.

"If they can get that... they may be able to identify at least, what actually caused the explosion which could lead to evidence, could lead to a trial, which could lead to charges and conviction."

Twenty-nine men were killed after several explosions in the mine in November 2010. Pike River Coal Limited, Valley Longwall International and former mine CEO Peter Whittall all faced health and safety charges over the disaster.

Pike River Coal Limited and Valley Longwall International were both given fines, although Pike River Coal did not pay the full amount as it said it did not have the money.

Charges against Whittall were dropped in 2013 after he and Pike River Coal offered voluntary payments to the families. Prosecutors also said there was not enough evidence against Whittall.

A widow of one of the men killed in the mine is waiting with baited breath to see what will be discovered when the long shut mine is explored.

"We're hoping because it was shift change at that time that there will be a drift runner or a taxi there that would have a few of our men coming out," Anna Osborne told Newshub.

Mostly she's glad to see re-entry finally happening, after the previous National Government had ruled out any further attempts.

"I've got knots in my stomach and I'm actually struggling to speak because we fought for eight-and-a-half years to get here and it's happening now, it's real. "


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