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Concrete company pulls out of Pike seal

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016
Workers stroll by a bouquet of flowers for victims of mine explosion lie on the road near the Pike River mine at Greymouth, New Zealand, Tuesday, June 28, 2011. © Iain McGregor/ AP Photo Workers stroll by a bouquet of flowers for victims of mine explosion lie on the road near the Pike River mine at Greymouth, New Zealand, Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

The concrete company contracted to supply cement to seal the Pike River Mine has halted supply until a dispute over re-entering the mine is resolved.

Families of the 29 men killed in the 2011 mine disaster say they are "incredibly relieved" by the decision by Allied Concrete.

But according to Environment Minister Nick Smith's office, the decision doesn't significantly impact the work and the Type C seal required by WorkSafe is already complete.

Allied Concrete revealed its decision to Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben was among those killed.

"Allied has shown real moral strength in stopping this work and is a great example of a good family business," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We understand this means the sealing of the mine cannot go ahead, and we're grateful to Allied and to all of the Kiwis who have supported us to stop the mine being sealed."

Ms Rockhouse and other family members have been calling on the government to allow entry to the mine to possibly retrieve bodies or collect evidence about the mine disaster.

They say local and international experts have declared the drift section of the mine is safe to enter, but mine owners Solid Energy have flatly rejected those reports.

"The reality is that for the entire time since Solid Energy took over Pike River Mine in 2012, the drift has been full of nearly pure methane," the company said in a strongly worded statement released on Monday.

But the company is "not commenting at the moment" on Allied Concrete's refusal to proceed with the seal, a spokeswoman told NZ Newswire.

A spokeswoman for Dr Smith said Solid Energy had advised him sealing work required by WorkSafe to be completed by the end of November had been finished.

"Solid Energy further advises that the ready mix concrete is not essential to complete the seal of the mine as the bulk of the seal is made of Stopcrete," she said.

"It also advises this decision will not significantly impact on its work programme."

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