Govt to engage with families on next steps at Pike River

  • Nick Smith
  • Simon Bridges
Energy and Resources Conservation

The Government has today accepted Solid Energy’s decision not to pursue the Pike River drift re-entry project and committed to working with the Pike River families on next steps for the Pike River site, says Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges and Acting Conservation Minister for issues relating to Pike River, Nick Smith.

“We have listened to the Pike River families today.  Understandably, they are disappointed by the news from Solid Energy, but they have also turned their mind to the future and accept that the Pike River mine is the final resting place for the 29 deceased men,” says Mr Bridges.

“We know this has been a very difficult decision for the families.  They have been the very best advocates they could have been for the recovery of their men.”

Solid Energy has also announced today they will be surrendering the mining permit they hold for the Pike River site. 

“The Government has been assured Solid Energy has carried out an extensive and robust process, and it is our view that they are in the best position to decide the risks are simply too high for the project to be completed safely.  I will be accepting their permit surrender.”

“Solid Energy will need to work with the Department of Conservation and New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals around the smooth transition of the management of the site and an agreement around variation to the access agreement,” says Dr Smith.

The Pike River families group has presented the Government a series of recommendations for the next steps following Solid Energy’s withdrawal from the drift recovery project.  Ministers will be considering these recommendations and will work closely with the families to carry out their wishes for the future of the Pike River site.

“The remainder of the money that was available for the drift re-entry project – $2 million – will be made available for this work and, if more funding is needed, we would certainly be open to that,” says Mr Bridges.

Dr Smith says the Department of Conservation is the underlying landowner and becomes responsible for the site once Solid Energy leaves.

“I have been asked by the Prime Minister to work with the Department of Conservation and the families to discuss their wishes for the future of the Pike River site,” says Dr Smith.

“I will open up a dialogue with the families about the longer-term future of the site, and I will take advice directly from the families when they feel the time is appropriate.

“It’s nearly four years now since the Prime Minister said at the memorial service that he did not know whether some or all of their men were lying in their final resting place.

“Today, after much struggle, toil and heartache, we have that answer. 

“We will work hard to provide the families with closure and appropriate ways to remember their men,” says Dr Smith.

Dr Smith is the Acting Minister of Conservation for issues relating to Pike River due to Conservation Minister Maggie Barry being a close family relative of Bernie Monk, a spokesperson for some of the families.