One miner dead, one seriously injured at Ballarat

A rockfall at the underground Ballarat gold mine, northwest of Melbourne, Australia, on 13 March, has left one miner dead and another in serious but stable condition.

The two workers were performing an air legging technique about 3 kilometres underground when they were pinned by falling rocks. Twenty-eight other miners that were also working in the mine made it to a safety pod and were brought to the surface uninjured.

Mine operator Victory Minerals, which took ownership of Ballarat in December, reopened the mine on 15 March after receiving approval from local safety regulator WorkSafe Victoria. It has suspended the use of air legging at the mine until further notice.

“Our members have raised concerns about this style of mining and it seems to have fallen on deaf ears,” said Ronnie Hayden, Victoria branch secretary of the Australian Workers Union. He noted that air legging had not been performed at Ballarat in years and that most mines have stopped the unsafe practice. 

WorkSafe Victoria and police are investigating the fatal accident.

A Victory Minerals’ spokesperson said its investigation will be conducted by “an external expert” so that “we and our community can be confident it will be both robust and independent.” 

Sources: Associated Press and ABC News

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