NZ Government won’t contribute to Pike recovery efforts, minister says

Acting New Zealand energy and resources minister Hekia Parata says the government will not contribute to the cost of recovering the remains of the Pike River victims.

It is "not my expectation at this time" that the Government will contribute to the recovery cost, Parata said.

However, this is directly opposed to prime minister John Key’s statements that the Government would consider contributing to a recovery plan, which he reiterated yesterday, Stuff.co.nz reports.

“As I’ve always said if a credible plan was put to the Government, one which ensured the safety of those who would undertake the recovery, the Government would consider that,” Key said.

He added that the New Zealand Government is unlikely to issue mining permits for the site unless the buyer had a plan to recover the bodies.

Key said that it would be unacceptable to New Zealanders for a company to reopen the mine and not attempt to recovery the bodies.

“If some mining company is going to go into that mine at a future time, then to go and take the coal out but not to undertake a recovery of the bodies and the remains that are there, I think is unacceptable not only to the families but to the bulk of New Zealanders," he told TV3’s Firstline programme.

“The Government’s very unlikely to issue new mining permits unless every attempt is make to get the remains out.”

The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions (ICEM) added that there would be an international boycott of the mine unless an acceptable plan to recover the bodies is put forward.

“It’s embarrassing that seven months later we are having a discussion like this,” Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell said.

This comes as receivers last week stated that they did not expect to recover the bodies of the 29 miners as they could not afford it.

John Fisk from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators of the closed Pike River mine, said there is one million dollars set aside for the re-entry operation, but that this would only cover the costs of teams to reach the rockfall and not the actual recovery efforts.

Fisk told Radio New Zealand that it will be the responsibility of the buyers of the mine to pay for the bodies to be recovered.

"We will use our commercially best endeavours to achieve that, but I think everyone recognised…that wasn’t something we could insist on at the end of the day, it will be up to the purchaser to reach an agreement," he said.

Recovery teams finally entered the mine on Tuesday last week, more than six months after explosions first rocked the underground coal mine.

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