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Industry and nation farewells FIFO ‘legends’ who died underground

Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis
Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis

Tributes are flowing across Australia after two remote mine workers were declared deceased in northwest Queensland.

MMG recently confirmed Barminco fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employees Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis suffered fatal injuries at the Dugald River underground mine, 65km northwest of Cloncurry.

The pair had travelled in a utility vehicle 125 metres beneath the surface when the ground collapsed. A nearby drill rig operator also fell into the same stope at about 8:55am on 15 February 2023.

The rig worker was found with minor injuries but neither of the missing ute occupants responded to radio communication. Mine employees eventually deployed drone technology to help locate the vehicle.

“A search and rescue effort conducted overnight Wednesday was able to locate and extract the vehicle. However, the two had suffered fatal injuries,” an MMG spokesperson said in a public statement.

The proponent will keep the operation suspended while investigators determine what caused the tragedy and how to prevent history from repeating.

“We now need to come together to support everyone who has been impacted and understand the cause of this incident, so that it cannot happen again,” MMG CEO Liangang Li said.

“I would like to sincerely thank everyone involved in the emergency response to this incident and the support we have received from community and authorities. This is a tragic outcome for the family, friends and colleagues of Trevor and Dylan,” Dugald River general manager Tim Akroyd added.

Langridge, 33, and Davis, 36, have worked at the Dugald River mine since the years 2020 and 2021 respectively. Langridge began his career as a Savannah mine truck operator before moving to Dugald, and becoming a charge up operator 1.5 years later. Davis started as a Rosemont shotcrete operator then transferred to Dugald as a charge up operator more than one year later.

Employer Perenti Group remembered the late pair as “valued” and “well respected” Barminco team members.

“The rescue operation has now sadly completed. Our primary focus is that of support for the families and colleagues of Trevor and Dylan and in parallel completing a comprehensive investigation,” Perenti managing director and CEO Mark Norwell said in a public statement.

“The safety of our employees is an absolute priority for Perenti as it is for the industry more broadly. I am devastated that the families and friends of our two workmates have lost their loved ones. This outcome is simply not acceptable.”

News Limited reported the mine had already begun to demobilise and at least 110 FIFO workers were scheduled to board chartered flights at Cloncurry Airport. However, Akroyd postponed some flights due to the incident.

News of the workplace tragedy quickly spread across social media, and even reached the most senior levels of government.

“My deepest condolences to Dylan and Trevor’s families. You are in our hearts,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Twitter.

“Terrible news to hear of the tragic passing of two Australian men at the Dugald River mine near Cloncurry – deepest condolences to the families,” Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said on Facebook.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of Trevor Davis and Dylan Langridge who have passed away. This is an absolute tragedy, it should never have happened [and] … investigators from Resources Safety and Health Queensland are already on site – I expect a thorough investigation into how this happened,” State Resources Minister Scott Stewart added in a public statement.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) expressed its “deepest” condolences to loved ones.

“A tragedy like this affects a wide circle of people but at the heart of it are two families who are dealing with a tremendous loss. Our hearts go out to them,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said in a public statement.

The Western Mine Workers Alliance (WMWA) was “shocked and saddened” to hear the mine collapse ended in tragedy.

“It is extremely disappointing to once again extend our sympathies to grieving families, just one week after the tragic incident in Port Hedland. Mine workers across Australia deserve to come home from work safely each night. Any investigation needs to understand exactly how this happened – and what can be done to prevent it from ever happening again,” WMWA said on Facebook.

Colleagues and friends took the opportunity to mourn Langridge and Davis who they often treated as family members.

“The outcome we had all been dreading. Words cannot describe the heartache. We all go to work, to come home safe. We know the risk of our jobs but never expect it to happen to us or our workmates,” Barminco coworker Katie Martin-Morse said on Facebook.

“My heart aches knowing the pain my fellow workmates are feeling, the loved ones that have to mourn and go on without these men in their lives. No one deserves this, we all deserve to go home safe back to our families. RIP may you always be remembered and never forgotten.”

“I have worked with some great people over my life working underground but to lose two close friends is completely upsetting. I love my underground brothers forever. Rest in peace (RIP) Trevor Davis and Dylan Langridge. Some of the hardest works that I have ever charged with and you definitely will never be forgot[ten],” colleague Chris McDermott said.

“Dylan Langridge I am so privileged to have worked by your side. I will always miss our talks about what we are up to on break, camping living our best lives etc. Trevor Davis you have always been there for me, any questions about anything, you always had my back. My brothers fly high, always in my heart,” workmate Will Chandler said.

“There is always a special bond you have with your workmates when you work underground/mining. It is absolutely devastating and heart breaking, my heart goes out to the families and friends this has affected. RIP Trevor Davis and thank you for the great memories we shared while working together,” Melanie Elloy said.

“Dylan Langridge we were family … service crew family, you taught me so much and we helped each other through a few very tough times in our lives but you always made work not so much like work, and had a cheeky grin at the end of the day. Will always miss you … RIP mate and enjoy a cold one with your old man,” service crew member Suzi Burke said.

“I have stared at your photo and I have read the words over and over again but this still does not feel real – completely lost for words and heart broken. RIP Trevor Davis and Dylan. Hug your miners tight today and before every shift as you never know when they might not tag off again,” close friend Megan Weir said.

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