Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

S. Bell, Pike River Royal Commission outcomes, 13th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy & Mine Managers Association of Australia, 2013, 240-247.


On the 19th November 2010 29 men died when a methane explosion ripped through the Pike River coal mine near Greymouth on the South Island of New Zealand. Two survivors staggered out of the mine one hour after the initial explosion but the mine remains a tomb for the Pike 29. Over the next few weeks three further explosions occurred until the mine was inerted using the GAG jet inertisation device and then sealed. This paper summarises the finding of the Royal Commission of Inquiry that was convened in December 2010 by the New Zealand Government, to address the questions of: What went wrong at Pike. Why were the previous lessons from mine disasters in developed countries around the world not learned and what is the potential to learn from this event. The report from the Royal Commission was provided to the Governor General of New Zealand on the 30th October 2012. Pike was a coal mine with difficult geological and topographical conditions. This mine needed the best of everything but this didn’t happen and 29 people paid the ultimate price. This presentation will set the context of Pike, look at the rescue recovery operation and cover the Royal Commission report and what the future holds for the New Zealand coal mining industry. The paper extensively references the information contained within the report of the Royal Commission. The bodies have not been recovered and the definitive cause of the disaster has not been determined but the Royal Commission uncovered a litany of problems that lead to the explosion on the 19th November. These problems should have been addressed. This disaster was avoidable.