Rock fall at Papua New Guinea mine claims life of Ok Tedi worker

ok tedi

Eric Tlozek | ABC News

A man has died at Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi mine, forcing operations to be suspended less than two weeks after they were restarted.

The gold and copper mine — the largest in the country — resumed operations on March 1 after slashing its workforce and halting production in July due to weak copper prices and dry weather connected to Papua New Guinea’s El Nino-related drought.

Ok Tedi Mining Limited said the worker was caught in debris from a rock fall on the mine’s western wall.

“A section of rock and dirt fell out of the wall of the mine and landed in the sump, which is located at the bottom of the mine,” managing director Peter Graham said.

“Unfortunately one of our employees, who was attending to pit drainage … was unable to get clear of the debris that flowed as a result of that fall.”

The mine’s management was unable to retrieve the man’s body before dark. Recovery efforts resumed this morning.

Mr Graham said the mine had been shut down to allow employees to deal with the worker’s death.

“We shut down operations last night for the oncoming night shift crew and just told everyone to stand down today,” he said.

“The primary reason for doing that is to respect our lost workmate.”

The company said PNG authorities had been notified of the man’s death.

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