September 30, 2019 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Mine Wall Collapse Claims Miner’s Life Amid Workers’ Concerns About Safety

Mine worker in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia recently sent two images of incidents at the Groote Eyelandt site to local NT news outlets

The images were of an excavator that had rolled over and a hauling truck on a precarious perch. The incident in one of the images was blamed on worker fatigue by the mine worker.

The Groote Eylandt Mining Company operation (GEMCO) is located on an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria off the Northern Territory Coast and produces high-grade manganese ore. In response to the mine worker’s shared images, the GEMCO Vice President of Operations Jo-Anne Scarini said in a statement to NT News that any repeat event was unacceptable and its investigation helped understand how safety could be improved.

A late-August 2019 incident involving a fatality in the NT has caused current and former mine workers to contact Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMMEU) with concerns about the mine at Bootu Creek

Kane Lowth, NT organizer, stated, “They’re making allegations that similar slips have occurred recently, not dissimilar to the one that occurred on Saturday that took this gentleman’s life. If that’s the case, we want to know one, what the company’s done, and what the NT WorkSafe has done to make that right.”

Louth went on to comment, “I’m not happy with what’s occurring here in the Territory; Territory workers are three times more likely to die at work than anywhere else in the country, and that’s a disgraceful record to have.”

Unions call for industrial manslaughter laws after man fatally injured by mine wall collapse at Bootu Creek

The industrial incident saw a miner, 59-year-old Craig Butler, engulfed under about 48,000 cubic meters of soil and rock at the Bootu Creek Mine, about 130km north of Tennant Creek.

The Australasian Mine Safety Journal (AMSJ) reported hearing from several former workers at the mine where Craig Butler died, saying, “Some told us that many people only will stay on for one swing because the ‘conditions were just that bad.'” The AMSJ reported, “There were ‘significant disregards for the basic tenets of mining safety’ and the ‘NT Government had failed to take action for several years,’ a former worker said.”

ABC News reported that “Unions NT called for a ‘revamp’ of workplace culture,” and that NT General Secretary Joel Bowden called for NT government to “implement industrial manslaughter laws.”

This Lessons Learned is from Australasian Mine Safety Journal‘s articles about the Bootu Creek Mine incident.

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