Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | March 14 2016
OPERATIONS at the Ok Tedi mine in Western Province have been suspended after a senior employee lost his life in a landside that occurred at the main open pit mine last Thursday.
The Ok Tedi Mining Limited management said in a statement that the accident occured at about 5pm when a section of rock and dirt fell from the western wall of the mine into a sump located at the bottom of the pit and covered one of its employees as he was attending to pit drainage.
OTML said all other employees in the mine were positively accounted for the night before they returned from the mine to the camp.
Managing director and chief executive officer Peter Graham said initial efforts were carried out to recover the body but was postponed to ensure the safety of emergency response personnel, and the rescue efforts continued at daylight on Friday morning.
Mr Graham said that Ok Tedi mine has contacted the family of the employee and advised of the accident and also extended their sympathy.
Graham said as a mark of respect for a lost workmate, all operations across the company have been suspended until further notice.
He said Government authorities have been notified and an investigation has started.
According to sources, heavy rain in the area during the previous two days had caused a huge landslide and covered three employees of which two were rescued.
Several machinery at the mine pit were also covered.
The work at the storage facilities at Kiunga where the ores are stored before shipment has also been suspended. A similar landslide occured at one of the main open pit where high grade gold is mined back in 2015, but no lives were lost.
Last Thursday’s accident happened only 10 days after the resumption of mine operations after being closed for almost seven months following the extreme dry weather caused by the El Nino phenomena.
It comes when the company announced its achievements in trying to export the first production since resuming operations that is expected to be shipped on March 20.