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Bootu Creek mine fatality

Bootu Creek Mine where a mine worker has been buried
A Mineworker has been buried at a the Bootu Creek Manganese mine

The recovery of a miner entombed in a wall collapse at the Bootu Creek mine could take several days but the mine has vowed to keep operating despite the tragic circumstances.

The NT Resources Minister initially supported the continued operation of the mine and refused to shut the mine down however AMSJ beleives mining has been suspended this afternoon.

Late this afternoon the NT Government announced an official Joint Agency Taskforce has been established, led by NT Police and assisted by NT Worksafe and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) to respond to the incident at Bootu Creek.

Worksafe inspectors and DPIR officers have joined police on-site at the operations centre.

Initial reports from NT Worksafe inspectors have shown water seeping from the pit wall, and the ground remains unstable.

Instability of the site needs to be further assessed before any work can be undertaken to ensure safety of workers and responders. Technical specialists have been engaged to lead these assessments before any response activities can take place.

All in-pit mining work has ceased at Bootu Creek as a direction from DPIR.

59-year-old Craig Butler was engulfed under about 48,000 cubic meters of soil and rock at the Bootu Creek Mine, about 130km north of Tennant Creek, following the horrific industrial accident on Saturday.

AMSJ has heard from several former workers at the mine where Craig Butler died. Some told us that many people only will stay on for one swing because the “conditions were just that bad”

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.

NT Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Travis Wurst told a press conference in Darwin that “survivability” for the man was low.

“It is likely he has died as a consequence,” he said.

“It is a very sad and tragic event.”

“The site itself is still considered unstable, what that requires is levels of expertise that has to be brought in from elsewhere to assist the mine operator,” he said.

“To complete the recovery it will take an unknown period of time and it may be further days before we are able to achieve that.

“We need to bring this person home for the family,” he said.

Commissioner Wurst said because of the instability of the area, a time frame for the recovery was impossible to give.

At a press conference, Tuesday morning, Primary Industry and Resources Minister Paul Kirby said he had heard of at least two separated alleged incidents in the same mine pit but he did not elaborate details.

“We are aware of incidents in the past at this mine site,” Mr Kirby said.

“We won’t comment on the specifics.”

Mr Kirby also said he had yet to travel down to the mine site, and as yet had no plans to.

“Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the family,” Mr Kirby added.

“Any accident, any incident at work is something that we will work hard to try and prevent.”

The CFMEUs Kane Lowth has called Paul Kirby’s response to Craig Butler being buried alive “very weak”.

“In our view the operation should have stopped and NT WorkSafe should be able to go out there unencumbered to be able to do the investigation,” he said.

“A lot of these companies are taking our resources and taking huge profits and don’t give a hell of a lot back,” he said.

“It’s about time this government stopped cowering to business and started caring about our workers health and safety.”

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AMSJ April 2022