Details of Pike River commission of inquiry released

Details of the royal commission of inquiry into the series of explosions at Pike River have been released, with a preliminary hearing set for 5 April in Greymouth.

The safety systems at the Pike River Coal mine, where 29 workers were killed in November, will be examined as part of the inquiry.

The commission said it intends to hold 15 weeks of hearings from the day following the preliminary hearing and conclude on 4 November.

The hearing will be organised in four phases – context, search and rescue, what happened at Pike River and policy aspects.

The “regulatory environment” in the country, as well as the geography, approval and development of the mine will be examined in the first phase, while the second will examine the search and rescue operations at the mine and the cause of deaths.

Phase three will explore the cause of the explosions and Pike River Coal’s operational and management practises and phase four will look at the policies that govern mining.

The main purpose of the inquiry is to establish what happened at the mine and find ways to prevent future mining tragedies.

Spokesman for the families, Bernie Monk said the victim’s families cannot move on until the bodies of their loved ones are recovered, and with recent talks of companies buying the mine from receivers, he wants any company to have a recovery effort high on its list of priorities.

The receivers cannot say when, if ever, the mine will be re-entered.

Image: Science Media Centre

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