Dear Prime Minister, Ministers, NZ Police, Pike River Recovery Agency, Police Experts and others.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry pointed towards the underground fan as being the most likely ignition source of the first explosion and further evidence gathered by the independent investigation team and international experts only reinforces this. The Families experts have devised a safe, technically achievable and financially feasible plan to go through the roof fall and reach the fan area.
23 of the 29 Pike River Families support the move to recover the main fan site (Families polled in April 2021) and as a result of that, the Families international experts have spent the last month working pro bono on a roof fall recovery plan (copy attached).
The report, completed by the independent technical advisory group which includes international mining & electrical engineers, ventilation experts, mines rescue and health & safety experts, highlights a credible method using standard mining practices by which recovery of the main fall and access to the underground ventilation fan can be safely achieved. The proposed programme could be completed in as short a time period as 12 weeks, at an estimated cost of under $8M, which represents significant value in relation to the considerable effort and cost already devoted to Drift re-entry.
Re-entry in this way completely eliminates the risk of roof collapse, a serious risk as is associated with the Police proposal to bore a shaft into the fan site. If the Police borehole drilling creates a new roof collapse as it did at borehole 50, then their efforts will not uncover evidence, but will instead bury that vital evidence forever.
The Families are asking that the NZ Police, the Government and the Pike River Recovery Agency engage with the technical experts and the Pike River Families Group Committee in an open forum to establish the way forward to recover the main fan site which is the most important forensic site within the mine workings.