The man missing at the Mount Isa Mine, Brett Kelly, is believed to have fallen into an ore pass that could now contain about 100, 000 tonnes of copper ore according to Mount Isa Police.
Mr Kelly was last seen at approximately 11.30am last Wednesday, however ore crushing was only stopped at the mine when he was reported missing four hours later at 3.30pm.
An ore pass is a near vertical shaft in an underground mine into which ore is dumped from various levels. The ore falls to the bottom of the shaft where it is crushed mechanically.
Mount Isa Police Inspector Trevor Kidd told the North West Star last night that the ore pass is too dangerous for people to climb down.
“It’s extremely dangerous, we can’t send people down,” Inspector Kidd said.
However the Inspector said they were looking at other options, and were not giving up the recovery operation.
“We’re still doing everything humanly possible to go about it,” he said.
Inspector Kidd said the decision to call off the search and begin a recovery operation was made after medical specialists advised on Mr Kelly’s chance of surviving in the ore pass over a period of time.
Inspectors and Investigators from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines have now begun a formal investigation into the incident and will work with police to prepare a report for the coroner.