Police are currently conducting inquiries into a theory that the conveyor belt in the Pike River Mine was activated on 24 November 2010, prior to the second explosion.
This theory was first raised in 2017, and police have subsequently received a number of requests for information about this.
Police have already spoken to a number of current and former police staff involved in the operation, and are currently reviewing relevant documentation.
Based on the information available to us at this time we can state the following:
· We have found no information to suggest the conveyor belt was activated on 24 November 2010 prior to the second explosion.
· We have found no documentation to suggest that police or anyone else authorised the conveyor belt being activated.
· We have found no information to suggest that others activated the conveyor belt without police knowledge.
The documentation which police has reviewed to date shows that there were a range of discussions about activating the conveyor belt prior to 24 November. Central to these discussions were the risks involved.
Police have not identified any documentation at this stage which shows a final decision was made. It is possible that the second explosion occurred before any final decision was made, meaning further discussions about activating the conveyor belt became irrelevant.
Our investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to speak to a range of people to assist us in establishing if there is any basis to what at this time can be only described as a theory.
Our focus is to establish the facts, and provide answers as best we can.
If anyone has information or knowledge which can assist police on this issue then we invite them to contact us directly.
It is our intention to publicly release any relevant documentation once our investigation is completed.
Meanwhile Police continues to support efforts to achieve re-entry to the mine. Specifically the police role will involve completion of any scene examination in relation to the original investigation, as well as any coronial processes required.
We are working closely with the Pike River Recovery Agency to achieve this, and we are determined to do all we can
Issued by Police Media Centre