Miner dies at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek Mine in Western Australia

A young contractor has died after an accident at a Fortescue Metals mine in Western Australia overnight, the second fatality at the site in 4½ months.

The 23-year-old man was working on a surface miner in a workshop at Christmas Creek Mine in the Pilbara region when he was fatally hurt, Fortescue said in a statement this morning.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones confronting the loss of a young life full of promise,” Fortescue chief executive Nev Power said.

The man’s colleague suffered leg injuries in the same accident. The company did not provide details on how the incident occurred.


Fortescue said West Australian police and the Department of Mines and Petroleum were informed and the mining firm would be assisting them with their inquiries. The man’s name has not been released by WA police.

A Department of Mines and Petroleum spokesman said investigators were flying up to the site this morning.

Surface mining operations were being temporarily suspended, the company said.

The fatal accident came after a contract worker died in August after an incident at the same mine. Fortescue said then the company would be assisting authorities with their investigations into the incident. The man’s death was the first industry-related fatality in WA in two years.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union called for a “full and thorough investigation”, saying the fatal accident was “an extremely disturbing development”.

CFMEU’s WA state secretary Mick Buchan added that his union had received a “significant number of complaints about safety concerns” at the mine in recent months.

Earlier this month, a construction contractor at a Newcrest gold mine at Telfer in the East Pilbara region died after a large piece of pipework rolled onto him, the Department of Mines and Petroleum said.

The Kimberley and Pilbara regions are bracing for Tropical Cyclone Christine, which is off the coast of northern WA. The cyclone warning is in place for coastal areas such as Port Hedland, Karratha and Onslow, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman said in a statement that port and rail operations in Port Hedland were suspended, with tie-down activities completed.

“Port Hedland is now on red alert,” the spokeswoman said. “All personnel have safely left site. Extreme weather preparations continue across our mining operations in line with alerts issued by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.”

Fortescue said it has also locked down its port and rail operations and its staff “have returned home or to accommodation sites and have been advised to stay indoors”.

“All other Fortescue sites continue to prepare for the cyclone and will update plans accordingly,” a Fortescue spokeswoman added.



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