Pike re-entry is 'achievable' - Solid Energy boss

Solid Energy chairman Andy Coupe says a re-entry of Pike River Mine is "achievable" if the government wrote out a blank cheque.

But he says Solid Energy wouldn't oversee a re-entry attempt because it is currently being dismantled as a company and won't exist in a year's time.

Ever since the West Coast coal mine exploded in 2010, the Government's promised the Pike families that cost wouldn't be a barrier to re-entering the mine and recovering the 29 men.

Prime Minister Bill English reiterated that point yesterday when he met with the families.

Mr Coupe says the preferred option for re-entry would see the construction of a new tunnel running parallel to what's called the 'drift', which would give the mine two entry points. He says the plan would cost upward of $100m.

"Drilling a second egress would mean significant diminishing of risk. That means drilling another tunnel side-by-side and intersecting the tunnels. The risk of entrapment is significantly diminished," says Mr Coupe.

The Government's open Pike recovery chequebook came as news to Mr Coupe, who says that has never been made apparent to him and why he'd never approached the government cap in hand. 

"We haven't done that because we haven't been asked to do that and it's not our role to do that.

There's also a more radical option on the table.

"If you took the top of the mountain off, many of the risks would disappear," says Mr Coupe.

"Then you would have to consider DOC issues, and iwi rights issues, but if that was done, a huge amount of the risk would go away," he says.