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New image reveals scale of mine wall collapse disaster in Top End

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

Authorities have released imagery showing the level of devastation at a Northern Australian mineral mine on August 28.

The Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources recently released an aerial photo of an open pit at OM Holdings’ Bootu Creek Manganese Mine, 890 km southeast of Darwin.

Steep wall gave way

The pictured image clearly shows the steeper mine wall gave way and rocks and soil fell into the open pit area, effectively blocking access to the rest of the pit.

The soil level appears to be several times higher than the mine machinery pictured and the Singapore-headquartered estimated about 48,000 cubic metres of rock and soil fell into the pit.

Slip claimed worker’s life

The wall slip has most certainly claimed the life of machine operator Craig Butler, 59, who the Australian Associated Press revealed to be a married father of two adult daughters. QMEB revealed Butler was a New Zealander and came from Whakatane in the north island’s Bay of Plenty region.

“This is an extremely sad situation for all involved and our thoughts are with the family of the mine employee, workers on site and emergency,” the department said in a public statement.

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Regulatory approval secured for new work at mineral project.

History of safety concerns

There have been safety issues at the 14-year-old mine before, including at least two previous wall slips.

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”.

Photo credit: Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

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