Pike Agency straight down to business

Pike Agency straight down to business
The Pike River Recovery Agency - cracking on with its allotted task.

Andrew Little, who is the Minister Responsible for the Pike River Re-entry is ensuring the Greymouth-based agency he heads is moving quickly into its allotted task.
The Pike River Recovery Agency was established this year with a specific purpose; to develop a plan for safe manned re-entry to the mine drift; to provide advice to the Minister on whether that could be safely achieved; to oversee the implementation of that plan if the Minister makes a decision to proceed on the strength of that advice; and importantly, to try and find out what happened to create the explosion which killed 29 men, and to recover any bodies in the drift.
Little says the agency is a visible sign of the present Government’s commitment to the task of recovering the Pike River Mine Drift, and, is also part of the Government’s promise to create new government positions in regional New Zealand.
“Basing the agency in Greymouth, on the West Coast, is appropriate and upholds our commitment to create government jobs in the regions. “Now we look forward to seeing work on developing a robust plan for manned re-entry progressing at pace.
“I don’t expect this to be straightforward, but the agency will be running a thorough and transparent process, drawing on expert advice and the families.”
“When we make the final decision on whether to re-enter the drift, it will be based on a technical assessment of the risks and advice that risks can be reasonably managed.
Pike River mine transferred from Solid Energy to Te Kahui Whakamana Rua Tekau ma Iwa – Pike River Recovery Agency on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.
The agency now has full responsibility for all aspects of mine management and will be subject to the relevant regulatory obligations.
Chief executive Dave Gawn, a former Major General in the New Zealand Army was appointed just before Christmas in 2017 and, has moved briskly to make the agency operative.
“The next task for the agency is to assess how safe recovery of the drift may be undertaken – taking into account the range of existing information, including Solid Energy documents obtained on transfer of record, and drawing on expert technical advice.”
After Gawn’s appointment late in 2017, other key positions were filled early in 2018. Among these is a former Spring Creek Mine manager, who has been appointed chief operating officer for the Pike River Recovery Agency.
Kevin Pattinson, known as ‘Dinghy’, is from Greymouth and brings more than 40 years’ underground mining experience to the role.
In addition to his strong mining background, he has been actively involved with the New Zealand Mines Rescue Service for the past 33 years.
“This is a really key role for the agency and I’m delighted we’re able to bring Dinghy on board,” Dave Gawn says.
“His highly specialised underground mining experience, combined with his clear leadership and stakeholder management skills, will prove invaluable to our team as we move forward.”
As chief operating officer, Pattinson will manage the operational elements of the mine reentry work programme and will have responsibility for ensuring activities at the mine comply with statutory health and safety requirements.
Pattinson has numerous mining qualifications, including first-class mine manager certificates, along with a post-graduate diploma in coalmine strata control from the University of New South Wales.
He took up the position at the Greymouth office on March 12. Other key positions have also been filled and just now the agency is seeking more staff.
On April 11 2018, the Pike River Recovery Agency started advertising for five new mine staff to assist in managing and running the Pike River mine site. Pattinson says the appointment of these five roles will complete the agency’s mining statutory roles.
“We need people who are able to quickly build strong working relationships based on trust and transparency to manage, contribute to and complete operational elements of the Pike River Re-entry work programme.”
The roles which are for a fixed term through to June 2019 include:
• Mine Underviewer/Health & Safety Manager
• Electrical Superintendent/Mine Gas Technician
• Control Room Operator/Mine Worker
• Mine Deputy/Mine Worker
• Senior Mine Assistant/Mechanical Superintendent
“It’s probably a bit unusual to have all these jobs out there at once, and some of them are joint roles,” says Dingy. “We’re a new agency and we’ve got a lot to do to plan the safe manned re-entry of the mine.
“The people in these positions are going to be vital to making sure we’re running a modern, upto-date and compliant mine site, in the knowledge that our role here is not actually mining, it’s recovery of the drift and supporting any forensic work that needs to happen alongside.”
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