Pike River: Aust Union Head Backs GAG Unit

The GAG unit flown for the Pike River coal mine recovery effort is ""no gimmick"" and has been used successfully in Queensland mines, the head of an Australian miners' union says.

Officials are trying to make the Pike River mine stable enough for rescuers to recover the bodies of 29 men trapped after an explosion a week ago.

Despite a brief stabilisation in the mine on Tuesday night, the 2.8km network of tunnels has refilled with potentially explosive methane and poisonous carbon monoxide.

The second enormous explosion on Wednesday afternoon briefly burned away some of the hot gases but with no working ventilation in the mine shaft further blasts cannot be ruled out.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force flew the ""GAG unit"" and 16 crew from the Queensland Mines Rescue Service into Hokitika at 6.30am today and is now at the mine.

The service's NSW state manager, Seamus Devlin, told Radio New Zealand the GAG unit would take three days to set up but could be ready for use on Monday.Forestry, Mining and Energy union spokesman Steve Smythe told the broadcaster the engine had been used successfully in Queensland mines.

The ""GAG unit"" will stabilise Pike River mine by sucking all the oxygen out of the atmosphere, he said.

""This is not a gimmick. People are going to be a bit sceptical on the back of the robots and everything. But I believe they will be able to stabilise that mine."""