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Body of mine worker finally removed from wall collapse disaster in Top End

Bootu Creek Manganese Mine wall slip
Bootu Creek Manganese Mine wall slip

The worst fears of colleagues and loved ones were confirmed when the body of a mine worker was removed from a huge pile of soil at a Northern Australian mineral mine on September 4.

A recovery team removed the remains of Craig Butler whose life was cut short on August 24 when an open pit wall collapsed onto him at OM Holdings’ Bootu Creek Manganese Mine, 890 km southeast of Darwin.

Buried under tonnes of soil

Tonnes of soil and rock had buried the 59-year-old married father of two adult daughters, one of whom is believed to work for a Western Australian mine. The Singapore-headquartered proponent estimated about 48,000 cubic metres of rock and soil fell into the pit.

Geotechnical experts were commissioned to make sure the recovery proceeded safely without causing any further injury or casualty.

“Our sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Butler,” a joint statement from a taskforce including Northern Territory Police, WorkSafe and NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources said according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “We thank everyone involved in the recovery.”

Coronial investigation planned

AAP revealed Butler was actually the mining superintendent at the operation. A coronial investigation is expected to begin shortly into exactly how the disaster happened.

“As there is a coronial investigation under way there will be no further comment,” the taskforce said.

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Previous safety issues investigated

There have been safety issues at the 14-year-old mine before, including at least two previous wall slips that will be investigated by the taskforce.

In 2013, OM Holdings was fined $150,000 in a landmark ruling in the NT Local Court for causing a collapse that desecrated a sacred Aboriginal site at Bootu Creek known as “Two Women Sitting Down”.

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