The Pike River underground coal mine is located in the Paparoa Range on the West Coast of the South Island.

The Pike River mine can be separated into two distinct areas: the mine drift and the mine workings. The drift is a 2.3 km access tunnel from the entrance of the mine to the workings. The workings comprise around 5.5 km of inner tunnels, from where the coal was extracted.

Pike River mine drift and workings.

Pike River Coal Company Ltd

The Pike River Coal Company Ltd, formed in 1982, explored and then acquired authorisations for the Pike River mine over the course of 23 years. The company decided to proceed with development of the mine in 2005.

The mine was officially opened in November 2008. It remained in development mode until the time of the explosion in November 2010.

Solid Energy purchase of the mine and liquidation

Solid Energy purchased the Pike River mine and its assets in 2012.

At that stage the mine was already sealed with temporary seals at the ventilation shaft and 170 metres into the drift (access tunnel). Solid Energy developed a plan for recovery of the drift, but concluded that the risks associated with manned re-entry remained too high to implement the plan.

In February 2017, the Government of the day asked Solid Energy to assess the feasibility of an unmanned exploration. This assessment proceeded through the middle of 2017 in anticipation of robot exploration taking place in late 2017.

The current government has committed to manned re-entry, and work on unmanned exploration is not being prioritised.

Solid Energy was responsible for maintaining and monitoring the safety of the mine until ownership of the mine and assets were taken over by Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau mā Iwa — Pike River Recovery Agency on 21 February 2018.  

Search our database for documents relating to Solid Energy’s Pike River Project and Pike River Unmanned Exploration Project.

Transfer of Pike River Mine to Crown

Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau mā Iwa — Pike River Recovery Agency took ownership of the mine and assets from Solid Energy on 21 February 2018. The Agency now has the access arrangements and resource consents to commence assessing how to safely recover the drift.