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1895 South Broken Hill Silver Mine

Case Study

On 18 July 1895, an airblast occurred at the South Broken Hill silver mine, killing nine workers.

The incident happened at approximately 4pm. At the time of the incident, the day shift workers were at the north sulphide stopes at a level of 400 feet. There had been indications that the ground was unstable, so the underground manager ordered the men out of the stopes. As they reached what they considered a safe area,, the ground gave way. A large quantity of earth fell, creating a forceful blast of air that threw the miners against the timbers, killing eight workers and severely injuring two others. One of the injured men succumbed to his injuries the next day, becoming the ninth fatality..

The rescue effort recovered all the bodies of the victims, bringing them to the surface on the day of the incident. The general manager of the mine, with over 50 years of mining experience, said that the mine was so extensively timbered that he would have thought it almost impossible for creep to occur.

This incident claimed the lives of 9 people: Arthur Trembath, Charles Nelson, William Arthur, Benjamin Snell, Frank Pearce, John Lee, George Holmes, William McLeish, WL (Scrap) Panter.

Ground or strata failure is a principal hazard under current regulation

Mine operators must prepare a principal hazard management plan which provides for the management of all aspects of risk control in relation to the principal hazard of ground or strata failure (refer clauses 5 and 24, Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Regulation 2014).