NZ Police has advised the families of the 29 Pike River mine victims that planning is under way to drill a further 10 boreholes at the mine.
The decision to undertake further drilling at the mine follows Police consultation with an expert mine panel, as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the first explosion at Pike River Mine on 19 November 2010.
Detective Superintendent Peter Read said the families spoken to on Wednesday were surprised by the decision to undertake further borehole drilling but were grateful for the opportunity it offers in terms of evidence gathering.
“The previous borehole drilling operation, which ran from June 2021 to March 2022, provided Police with valuable information to inform our investigation into the underground activity that led to the first explosion at the mine,” Detective Superintendent Read says.
Over the last four months, the investigation team and expert mine panel have been reviewing the evidence gathered to date.
This review has established that further borehole drilling is imperative to ensure the investigation team has all the necessary information to reach a definitive conclusion as to what led to the first explosion.
“The families of the 29 men lost at the mine have been waiting a long time for answers, and I’m very aware that in some respects this additional drilling operation could be seen as prolonging that wait,” Detective Superintendent Read says.
“However, I hope the decision also provides some reassurance to the families that Police remain absolutely committed to finding out as much as humanly possible about what led to the first explosion at the mine.”
Police have had preliminary conversations with the Department of Conservation and are working through a formal consent process.