Two miners pinned under rocks, 25 others stuck underground in Ballarat mine collapse


“I’m thinking of every worker and every family who is impacted by this event. Tonight will be a long night for them and for the entire Ballarat community,” she said.

Federal Infrastructure Minister and Ballarat MP Catherine King said on social media she was deeply concerned about reports of trapped miners.

“My thoughts are with them, their families and their workmates in very difficult circumstances.”

WorkSafe Victoria confirmed it had been notified of Wednesday’s incident and said inspectors and a technical specialist were responding.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Workers’ Union said their officials were attending, including the state secretary.

Ballarat Mayor Des Hudson said on Wednesday night that the community was hoping for a positive outcome.

Police at the scene of the collapse at a mine in Ballarat trapping two miners.

Police at the scene of the collapse at a mine in Ballarat trapping two miners.Credit: Joe Armao

“We wait patiently and send our thoughts prayers and wishes to not only the families of the two miners trapped, but also to the emergency services working to bring them to the surface,” he said.

“Hopefully we get a positive outcome. Now we wait and watch.”

He said he had been told 23 miners had been trapped underground, 21 of whom were able to get to a safe refuge location.

Hudson said the safe refuge location would have an escape hatch but it was unclear if the 21 miners were still there.

Hudson was confident the regional city would rally around those affected, noting the year had already been a dramatic one for locals after a nearby bushfire and the disappearance of Samantha Murphy.

“We are a resilient community, and people come together and support each other really well.”

Ballarat’s goldfields attracted migrants from across the world in the 1850s and gold has continued to be mined in recent years.

Victory Minerals owns and operates the Ballarat Gold Mine, which employs about 200 people and aims to produce about 40,000 to 50,000 ounces of gold a year. The company declined to comment when contacted late on Wednesday afternoon.

However, The Australian Financial Review has reported a subsidiary of London hedge fund Acheron Capital agreed to buy the mine three months ago from the liquidators of collapsed companies Balmaine Gold, which traded as Victory Minerals, and Golden Point Group.

The ABC and the Financial Review have reported an estimated 600 tonnes of rock collapsed into one of the mine’s underground tunnels in March 2021.

In November 2007, rescuers successfully brought 27 miners back to the surface at the Mount Clear gold mine after they were trapped hundreds of metres underground by a cave-in.

Miners are brought to the surface at a Ballarat gold mine after a tunnel collapse in 2007.

Miners are brought to the surface at a Ballarat gold mine after a tunnel collapse in 2007.Credit: Craig Abraham

The miners were dramatically lifted from a ventilation shaft just after 8am on November 19, almost five hours after the cave-in trapped them up underground.

The 2007 cave-in happened at 3.30am. At the time, one of the miners made mobile phone contact with people on the surface after the collapse.

One year earlier, Tasmanian miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb were trapped almost a kilometre underground for two weeks by a rock fall on Anzac Day at the Beaconsfield gold mine in Tasmania. Their colleague Larry Knight died in the collapse.

Bushland near the Mount Clear mine was the focus of a major search operation for missing Ballarat mother Samantha Murphy in the past month. Last week, police charged 22-year-old Patrick Stephenson with murder, alleging he attacked her at Mount Clear.



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