Forensic image analysis is underway for two resources employees who became lost in northwest Queensland.
MMG recently deployed drone technology to help locate a light truck operator and passenger who went missing at the Dugald River underground mine, 65km northwest of Cloncurry.
“We know the location of where the incident has occurred. The two missing people are approximately 125 metres below the surface,” general manager Tim Akroyd said according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We expect the rescue teams to start with their operations, once we can analyse the data collected and are comfortable with the next steps.”
The pair plus a drill rig operator reportedly fell into a void in a stope at about 8:45am on 15 February 2023. The rig worker has since been found. They all work for Perenti Group’s mining services entity, Barminco.
“The drill rig driver has been rescued and has received medical treatment. He is in a stable condition,” Akroyd said according to the broadcaster.
“Paramedics are currently on scene to assist other services as required at an ongoing rescue operation at a work site,” the Queensland Ambulance Service added on Twitter.
#Cloncurry – Paramedics are currently on scene to assist other services as required at an ongoing rescue operation at a work site.— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) February 15, 2023
Operations have been suspended and a “thorough” investigation will examine what caused the incident.
“The site emergency response team has been activated and Barminco is working with MMG and relevant authorities. Whilst the situation is still evolving the team are also focused on providing support to family members and colleagues,” Perenti managing director and CEO Mark Norwell said in a public statement.
Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) representatives have also attended the scene.
“We are advised that the Queensland Government have mine safety inspectors on site gathering information but, at this stage, it appears two miners are unaccounted for. We are in constant touch with our members both on- and off-site,” Australian Workers Union (AWU) Queensland secretary Stacey Schinnerl said in a public statement.
“This is obviously a trying time for workers at the Dugald River mine, and our thoughts are with them and their friends and family. We are hoping for a positive outcome for all.”
State Member for Traeger Robbie Katter described the incident hopes the two missing employees will safely return home from such a horrific ordeal.
“This kind of event is obviously the worst nightmare of any mining group and I know there is a lot of anxiety across the community right now,” he said on Facebook.
“Emergency services are on the ground and we are praying for a good outcome. My major concern is the wellbeing of these two employees and the task at hand to get them back safely to their families.”
The remarks came just days after RSHQ issued compliance directives to mine operators in response to multiple serious incidents involving mobile equipment operating on stockpiles. Operators were urged to ensure workplace risk is managed to an “acceptable level” and within specific timeframes.
“I expect for many operations responding to the directive will validate that their safety systems are good. For some, the directive will help expose deficiencies and lead to improved risk control and learnings,” RSHQ CEO Mark Stone said in a public statement.