Recovery effort to find remains of Howard miner

Willy Joynson is still trapped in a New Zealand mine.
Willy Joynson is still trapped in a New Zealand mine.

IT ONCE appeared certain that Howard miner Willy Joynson's remains would be forever entombed within the Pike River mine.

But New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the government intends to attempt a recovery effort in the drift at Pike River Mine, with the recovery to be completed by March, 2019, almost a decade after an explosion ripped through the West Coast mine, killing 29 men, whose bodies remain in the mine.

Ms Ardern said this would bring the families some "much overdue closure, and if possible, peace of mind".

The families of the 29 men died in the Pike River Mine Disaster have been campaigning for years to re-enter the mine and at least try to retrieve any remains.

The Pike River Recovery Agency will be established in January to start planning a re-entry.

Tony Forster is a former chief mines inspector who's been advising the Pike River victims' families.

The New Zealand Government has budgeted $7.6 million a year for three years, up to $23 million, for the agency and re-entry.

The Chronicle yesterday attempted to contact the family of Mr Joynson.

His family now lives in Maryborough, but his wife Kim was unavailable for comment yesterday.

When making the announcement there would be a recovery attempt, Ms Ardern said there would be risk, but the objective was to mitigate the risk, and make sure it was at an acceptable level.

For years, Willy worked in Howard's Burgowan mines and more recently in Central Queensland and New Zealand.

After the tragic incident, his cousin and long-time workmate Russ Joynson described him as a "good bloke" who was always "happy to have a chat".

Topics:  fraser coast howard miner pike river mine recovery

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