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Mine reopens despite little clarity on what killed underground employees

Resources Safety and Health Queensland
Resources Safety and Health Queensland

A multinational mineral producer resumed subterranean operations before determining how two remote workers died.

MMG recently restarted operations at its Dugald River underground mine, 65km northwest of Cloncurry.

“Following ongoing consultation with the Queensland Mines Inspectorate the Dugald River mine has been approved to recommence operations from Tuesday, 21 March 2023,” interim CEO and executive director Li Liangang said in a public statement.

“MMG would like to sincerely acknowledge the strong support and commitment the Dugald River operation has received from the local community and contract partners.”

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) had not concluded how fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employees Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis became fatally injured at the time of publication.

The pair’s light vehicle plunged 15 metres into a refilled ore stope on 15 February 2023. They had travelled in a utility vehicle to lay explosive charges 125 metres beneath the surface when the ground collapsed at about 8:55am. The vehicle, and a drilling rig following closely behind, fell down the stope.

The rig worker escaped with minor injuries and raised the alarm. Neither of the missing ute occupants responded to radio communication. Since ground stability concerns delayed rescue teams from removing debris they deployed drone technology to help locate the vehicle.

“Identifying the cause of death is not within the jurisdiction of RSHQ,” a spokesperson said according to News Limited.

State Resources Minister Scott Stewart defended the proponent’s decision to resume production.

“The decision to reopen was the mine’s decision,” he said according to the media outlet.

“Safety of our resources workers ­remains my number-one priority.”

Perenti Group recently began setting up a new safety transformation taskforce to improve work conditions at the same operation.

The taskforce will be supported through safety focused working groups within the group’s contract mining and mining services divisions. Findings and outcomes are promised to be shared with the broader industry for “positive” safety and critical control improvements.

“We continue to extend our deepest condolences to the families of Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis and their friends and colleagues,” MMG said.

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