Statement from Solid Energy re Pike River Mine 8 May 2017


Solid Energy responds to recent inaccurate media commentary about the Pike River mine in a repeated attempt to put the record straight.

The directors of Solid Energy utterly reject any allegation that they are involved in any form of a cover-up.

“We ask once again, what possible motive would there be for the directors, two of whom are based in the Australian mining industry, to take such a course of action? Frankly the allegation lacks any credibility. The mine was not owned by Solid Energy at the time of the explosions. We have absolutely nothing to hide and would have nothing to gain by being less than transparent” said Board Chair, Andy Coupe.

We also reject any inference from the recently released video footage that it demonstrates the mine is safe for re-entry. There is nothing in the footage that contradicts the decision that manned re-entry of the mine is unsafe. The risks around re-entry do not centre around the conditions in the first part of the drift – which is what is shown in this footage. As has been previously documented, the significant re-entry risks are mainly beyond the part of the drift that has been explored by robot.

As we have also previously stated, the mines rescue workers shown in the drift are in the first few metres. This is very different to the risks associated with being deep into the drift.

“Nobody, let alone media, politicians or other commentators with no mining expertise, can credibly assert from this footage that it proves that re-entry into the drift, let alone the mine itself, could be safely undertaken” added Mr Coupe.

We reiterate, our decision was based on an exhaustive investigation into the feasibility of safe re-entry and was backed by independent international expertise. We accept that others with mining expertise may form a different view, but that is the subjective nature of assessing risk. We couldn’t let our sympathy for the victims and their families, or for that matter uninformed public opinion, sway a decision which needed to be made on a thorough assessment the risks. There is no new information and there is nothing in the footage that would alter our decision. It is reckless for those who are not in possession of the full facts, and have no legal responsibility for the lives of those who would be put at risk, to claim otherwise.

The factual basis for our decision was detailed in 2014. Full information on the technical and risk aspects about the Pike River Mine re-entry project has been publicly available on our website since 2014.

While we have deep sympathy for the position of the families, the decision is entirely motivated by our responsibility for the safety of the site and any person entering the mine. As we said in 2014, any further loss of life in this mine is unacceptable and any possibility of other families having to go through what the Pike families have suffered is not a risk we believe should be taken.

“I repeat my earlier public statement that a change of law to permit this would be a perverse outcome given the current Health and Safety legislation is perhaps the only positive aspect to come out of the Pike River tragedy. Changing the law doesn’t make it any safer”, said Mr Coupe.

Solid Energy Chief Executive Tony King said that the focus for the company at this point is to work with government agencies and the families to assess the possibility of unmanned exploration of parts of the mine.

“This may provide an opportunity to explore the upper part of the drift which has not previously been viewed. We are hopeful that if successful this exploration may finally provide some answers for the families” he said.