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Bowen Basin coal mine accident suspends multiple sites

Saraji coal mine
Saraji coal mine

A heavy vehicle incident is suspected of prompting a resources giant to halt production in Central Queensland’s Isaac region.

Authorities recently started examining what killed a contractor at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA’s) Saraji South coal mine in Dysart, 267km south of Mackay.

Investigators want to know circumstances leading to a suspected fatal truck accident that hospitalised and eventually took the life of a 27-year-old man on 15 January 2024.

Queensland Police are assisting Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) representatives, and officers are widely expected to report findings to the coroner.

“As this investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment any further,” a RSHQ spokesperson said according to News Limited.

BMA revealed all mine sites were suspended and later resumed production on January 16.

“Emergency services responded to the scene and RSHQ has been notified. We are working closely with the mines inspectorate and relevant authorities,” asset president Adam Lancey said in a public statement.

“We are deeply saddened to confirm that one of our contracting partners was fatally injured following a vehicle incident at Saraji mine … our deepest sympathies are with the person’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

The remarks came eight months after a light vehicle fatally struck fitter Nathan Scholz near the Olympic Dam mine on April 25. Eleven weeks prior yard technician Jody Byrne passed away from a train accident at the Boodarie rail yard.

Those fatalities did not prevent chief executive Mike Henry from receiving a 4 per cent wage increase to US$1.81 million (A$2.8M) back in November 2023. Almost 97 per cent of shareholders voted to adopt the remuneration report and a further 97.8 per cent approved equity grants that award the CEO rights to acquire both cash and deferred plan, and long-term incentive plan shares.

The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) expressed “shock” and sorrow about the latest Saraji workplace death.

“This is the worst news we can ever receive. We are devastated that a coal miner is not returning home at the end of their shift,” MEU Queensland district president Mitch Hughes said in a public statement.

“Our hearts go out to friends and family. We offer our deepest thanks to first responders and support to workmates who may be traumatised by the events. Union safety inspectors are at the site to conduct a thorough investigation, we will ensure no stone is left unturned in understanding what has occurred and preventing future fatalities and injuries.”

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