Grave fears are held for three miners trapped almost 1km underground
in the Beaconsfield Gold Mine in north east Tasmania after an
earthquake measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale hit at 9.20 last
night. It’s the second rock fall in the mine in the past six months,
both thought to have been caused by mining activity.

The three men were among a party of 14 miners who were drilling in
preparation for managed explosions. Eleven miners escaped but
there has been no contact with the missing men since the quake. It’s
not known whether they were able to reach any safety chambers which
have oxygen supplies. A rescue operation is underway, but the area is
inaccessible until made safe for the rescue team.

A tourist destination, Beaconsfield is in the Tamar Valley about 40
minutes drive from Launceston. Established in 1877, the mine is in the
centre of the small town. One business operator told Crikey this
morning he felt the tremor last night. ‘It was brief but I felt it
alright,” he said. “Originally, I felt someone had run into the side of
me house.” The man, who didn’t want to be named, said he hadn’t
felt the tremor which temporarily closed the mine in October last year.

Mine manager Matthew Gill told an on site media conference at 11.45am
that the the cause “was most likely a seismic shock”. Earlier this
morning, University of Tasmania School of Earth Sciences lecturer
Michael Roach told ABC Local Radio in Hobart the rocks in the
area were hundreds of millions years old and the tremor “was most
likely a mining induced quake”.

Beaconsfied Gold’s half yearly report of 31 December 2005 reported a
consolidated loss of $0.9 million. Gold and silver sales revenue were
$13.5 million – a 25% drop from the 2004 half yearly figure of
$18.039 million. The loss was attributed to October’s “seismic event”.
Geotechnical and mining reviews had been undertaken and “good
ground support was upgraded where required”.

Peter Fray

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