An image of the Bootu Creek mine site in 2012
An image of the Bootu Creek mine site in 2012

Bootu Creek Mine mourns worker

THE board of OM Holdings said it was "deeply saddened" about what they called a fatal accident after a wall collapsed at a Territory mine site on Saturday.

In a statement released Monday morning, the board said a 59-year-old mining employee was fatally injured at the mine due to a wall failure in Tourag pit.

"All operations at the mine were halted, subsequently certain operations have restarted," they said.

"All employees are offered access to counselling services."

NT Police today attempted to rescue the 59-year-old Darwin man who was trapped underground for nearly two days after the incident.

CFMEU demands more action from the Territory’s Resource Minister and member for Port Darwin, Paul Kirby for more action. Picture: Justin Kennedy
CFMEU demands more action from the Territory’s Resource Minister and member for Port Darwin, Paul Kirby for more action. Picture: Justin Kennedy

The union representing workers is demanding the focus is put back on safety.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union NT organiser Kane Lowth said his thoughts were with the family, friends and workmates of the worker.

The man was engulfed under soil and rock at the Bootu Creek Mine, about 110km north of Tennant Creek, following the horrific industrial accident on Saturday afternoon.

"There have been an increased number of serious incidents and fatalities across the resource industry of late and we are not learning from it," he said.

"After a spate of critical incidents in Queensland all mines have done or are doing mandatory resets to put the focus back on safety.

"At the very least the CFMEU demands from the Territory's Resource Minister the same response for workers here.

"Minister Kirby has to get on the front foot after this tragedy and put this sector on notice that safety comes before production and allocate all the appropriate resources and responses immediately".

"While this investigation was ongoing, it is a fact that people are three times more likely not to return home from work in the NT then any other state or territory in the country and that calls for major change in how we do business here

"We should never be silent on safety and sadly for some companies safety becomes a poor second to their operations."

On Sunday, NT Police Superintendent Christopher Board said investigators were still looking into how the incident happened and were attempting to free the worker.

"Sadly, due to the nature of the collapse the likelihood of survival is low," he said.

"The instability of the site remains very real which has delayed any excavation at this time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, the workers, and the emergency services responding."

Supt Board said it was a volatile and unsafe situation.

"We're making all efforts to be able to get in and commence investigations."

In an official statement, NT Police said the incident happened about 2.40pm Saturday.

It said there was a "substantial wall failure" on the Western Limb located at the Bootu Creek Mine site.

Overnight Saturday, extensive efforts were underway to locate the missing employee, with additional crews flown in to assist. The mine is owned by Singapore-based OM Holdings.

A NT Worksafe spokesman confirmed OM Holdings informed it about the incident yesterday.

"An investigation team is currently being organised to attend the mine site," he said.

Primary Industry and Resources Minister Paul Kirby instructed operators to cease work - more than 26 hours after it happened. "The incident at Bootu Creek Mine is an absolute tragedy and my thoughts go to all the workers at the site and the families involved," he said.

"Territorians have the right to go to work and return safely to their families.

"The incident is currently under police investigation and NT Worksafe have been notified and are soon to be at the site."

OM Holdings was contacted for comment.