Sealing of Pike River mine will be stopped - Bernie Monk

The sealing of the Pike River mine will be stopped indefinitely, after Prime Minister Bill English met with the Pike River families at Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Pike River families spokesperson Bernie Monk says the families will now stop picketing the road that leads to the mine.

"[Solid Energy] were going to seal the mine up right or wrong. Well that's been stopped" Mr Monk said.

Prime Minister Bill English says "We discussed the families proposals around re-entry to the mine, I made it clear to them that I would not be re-instructing Solid Energy to re-enter the mine."

Mr English says it is not a political decision to make about the mine's safety, but they are requesting Solid Energy to halt the sealing of the mine for the time being.

Solid Energy has also been requested to investigate proposals to re-enter the mine, including the option to use robotics to re-enter.

"Our families are not going to give up, we've got a long way to go still," Mr Monk said.

The families of the 29 men killed in the 2010 Pike River Mine explosion have been calling on the Government to take action.

They want the government to create a special entity to take over ownership of the mine from Solid Energy, so that the mine drift can be re-entered.

They hope that the bodies inside can be retrieved.

Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the mine (Newshub)
Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the mine (Newshub)

This morning former Government mine inspector Tony Forster told the AM show he supported the re-entry of Pike River Mine drift. 

Mr English had previously said it was not up to the Government to make the decision about the mine's safety.

"Whoever owns the mine, it doesn't make any difference to whether it's safe or not and whoever does own it still has to make decisions about safety," Mr English said.

Solid Energy said that the mine was not safe to enter, despite a report commissioned by the Pike River families in which mining experts proposed a plan for what they called a safe re-entry.

But Mr English does not accept their report. "The families' proposal for entry, made public in December, does not include a detailed plan, and therefore does not make the case for a safe re-entry", Mr English said today.

"Any decision to re-enter would also have to be made in accordance with our current workplace safety law, so the new directors would still have to take responsibility without indemnity for all aspects of safely entering the mine. It's highly unlikely a new set of directors would decide it could be done safely."