An inquest into the death of a mine worker at the Mount Lyell mine in Tasmania will resume almost six years after the tragic mining accident.
53-year-old Michael Welsh died when his loader was caught in a ‘mud rush’ inundation incident in the mine’s lower levels at the Copper Mines of Tasmania mine at Queenstown.
Mr Welsh was an experienced bogger driver had reportedly conducted an inspection of the area that collapsed prior to the incident. AMSJ understands that the inrush area had been previously risk assessed by workers on the prior shift. The risk rating had been increased, however, Mr Welsh and others reportedly decided the risk was lower than the previous shift had estimated. They continued working and the inrush occurred.
In 2018 the inquest was launched into deaths at the mine. But evidence from a technical consultant was challenged by Copper Mines of Tasmania on the basis of expert evidence. That challenge resulted in the mining company proceeding to the High Court on the basis of inadmissibility of the technical expert’s evidence.
Last week the high court challenge by the company was lost and the court ruled that the evidence could be admitted to the inquest proceedings into the death of Mr Welsh at Mount Lyell.
In a statement released by Copper Mines of Tasmania it said that it was “disappointed” in last week’s decision by the High Court to “uphold the decision of the full court of the Supreme Court to allow a consultant’s report into the death of a contractor in 2014 to be examined by the coroner”.
“Any stress the delays may have caused the family of Michael Welsh, who died as a result of the mud rush, was unfortunate”, CMT said, adding it was “too important a matter to let go unchallenged”.
“CMT is concerned the report, which was disallowed as evidence in an earlier trial and described by the judge as ‘woefully inadequate’, had the potential to mislead the coroner and cause public distress,” the company said.
CMT said the company would “cross-examine the consultant and challenge the consultant’s report ‘line by line’ to ensure it did not mislead the coroner”.
Meanwhile, the family of Mr Welsh is still awaiting outcomes from the inquest almost six years on.
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