Pike River Families Main Fan Site Recovery Plan – May 2021


Dear Prime Minister, Ministers, NZ Police, Pike River Recovery Agency, Police Experts and others.

Please find attached the Pike River Families Main Fan Site Recovery Plan, completed May 2021.

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.

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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.


  1. We give in on this step and then they will say just a little bit more work and we will be able to get the bodies out .

  2. No matter what it costs the reasons for the deaths occuring must be clearly understood and responsibility laid on those who caused it and allowed it to happen.
    The National Govt at the time deregulated and pushed to one side well established international guidance for mining.
    Workers were threatened with sacking if they spoke out at meetings and safety measure that were in place were over ridden by management. If a brave worker or two spoke out they were immediately suspended. put through a disciplinary procedure in the Greymouth office and grounds were concocted to sack them.

    The inquiry was a whitewash and workers were scared to speak out as the coast had an unemployment problem. Listening to several workers discussions as bits of the inquiry were published, revealed gross misrepresentation of the role of management.
    Electrical monitoring of gas was often switch off and ventilation was inadequate but management pep talks included the myth ” We are mining in unchartered waters but we will keep you safe but have to bend a few rules to do so”. All lies.
    Electrically the workers were told to reduce expenditure and reduce the gas detection devices. Ventilation included the use of screens to alter air/gas flow with no signage on them so they were often moved by workers not involved with the, There was no effective management of ventilation and safety.
    I know Pike worker who got out knowing the mine was a disaster waiting to happen.
    The thought that traveled around the district was that if it did blow then that would give the National party grounds to allow open cast mining in conservation areas.
    And after the explosion words to that effect were heard from National Party members but public anger was rising.

    • The anger of many coasters that I knew was at the Greens who they blamed for no second entry/exit tunnel. It should be remembered Andrew Littles union praised the mine and allowed or did not speak up about many of the failings you talked of.
      I am sure you are right and the short cuts caused the explosion but the will the confirmation get anyone to pay the penalty now.


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