Ballarat Gold Mine – 1 dead and 1 seriously injured

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A man who died after a gold mine collapsed near Ballarat in Victoria’s west yesterday has been identified as father Kurt Hourigan.
The 37-year-old Bruthen man’s body was recovered by crews from approx 500 metres underground this morning, as his family remembered him as a hard-working dad, brother and colleague.
At least 28 workers escaped injury after making it to a “safety pod” when the gold mine at Mount Clear collapsed about 4:50pm yesterday, Wednesday 13 March 2024.
It’s understood falling rocks pinned two men, including a 21-year-old man from Ballarat, who was airlifted by AV’s HEMS5 to the Alfred Hospital after suffering life-threatening injuries to his lower body. The Toorak Times can confirm that HEMS5 took approx 29mins flight time to get the 21 year old from the mine site to the hospital’s trauma centre. Landing at approx 7:43pm local time.
It was then believed that crews were working to safely access Hourigan, who was stuck about 500 metres underground and three kilometers from the mine shaft entrance.
Mine staff guard the entrance gate to the Ballarat Gold Mine
Mine staff guard the entrance gate to the Ballarat Gold Mine
On Thursday 14 March 2024, the Toorak Times rapidly deployed our chief crime reporter and lead photographer, Lord Murray Schoorman from Peak Hour Images, to the mine site to cover the unfolding story.
In a press conference on Channel 7’s Sunrise program, a union representative confirmed that Kurt had died at the site.
Later in the day, Victoria Police then confirm this too, in a press conference outside the Ballarat Police Station.
Acting Inspector Lisa McDougall
Acting Inspector Lisa McDougall
Dozens of police, paramedics and members of the Country Fire Authority’s Oscar 1 Mine Rescue Team rushed to the Woolshed Gully Drive mine site when the collapse was reported yesterday afternoon.
Victoria Police Acting Inspector Lisa McDougall told media last night the uninjured workers were stuck in the pod for “hours” but had been brought to the surface by 10.30pm.
“There’s a couple of phases that have been undertaken,” she said.
Asked why the injured men weren’t able to reach the safety pod, McDougall said they were “impacted by the fall”.
Police had spoken to their families, who were “extremely distressed and concerned”.
McDougall said it was unclear what caused the collapse and couldn’t provide details about the workers, beyond saying the uninjured group contained a mix of men and women.
Ballarat City Mayor Des Hudson said the community were banding together following another tragedy in the regional community. “We have a very resilient community,” he said. “A community that certainly regularly shows empathy for other members of our community when they’re going through a tough time.”
WorkSafe arrived at the site today to investigate the incident while police will prepare a report for the coroner.
Worksafe investigators arrive at the mine site
Worksafe investigators arrive at the mine site
Worksafe investigators arrive at the mine site
Worksafe investigators arrive at the mine site

In a statement, Worksafe Victoria said, “It is understood workers were undertaking hand-mining operations when two of them were trapped by a rock fall about 4.30pm.

A 37-year-old man died, while another worker was rescued and airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

The death is the 10th confirmed workplace fatality for 2024. There were 14 work-related deaths at the same time last year.”

Victoria Police leaving the Ballarat Gold Mine site
Victoria Police leaving the Ballarat Gold Mine site
Mining staff leave the Ballarat Gold Mine site
Mining staff leave the Ballarat Gold Mine site

 

The gold mine is located about 116km west of Melbourne and was just taken over by Victory Minerals on 19 December 2023.
The company said their emergency response team were working closely with Victoria Police, CFA OSCAR 1 and other authorities.
“Right now our priority is the safety and well-being of our mining workers and their families,” the company said in a statement.
“We would like to assure the community we are working as quickly and as safely as we can to help bring this worker to the surface. “We bring significant experience and expertise to the mine. We are a safety-first mine operator and respect the work that underground miners perform every day.” Its tunnels and shafts stretch under nearby homes.
The mine has been in operation since the 1850s.
All images published by this masthead have been supplied by @peakhourimages and used with express authorisation.
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