The Pike River Recovery Agency has reached the roof fall 2.26 kilometres up the mine’s access tunnel, marking the end point of its journey and ending any hopes of recovering any bodies.
And it cost $51 million to find that out.
Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son Ben in the explosion, said the end of the drift was another milestone on the way to justice.
“The drift recovery was always about retrieving evidence and, if they were there, remains.
“Now that the mining work is done the indepth forensics can be completed and the legal work can begin.”
The agency would now turn its attention to the detailed forensic work in the Pit Bottom in Stone area, which was required for the police investigation.
Pit bottom in stone is a 600m network of roadways about 1900m up the drift that holds vital electrical equipment that could provide data to explain the cause of the explosions.
The chance that any of the “evidence” will lead to a prosecution and a conviction beyond reasonable doubt is miniscule.