Mine worker suffers serious burns after fire on site

A man has been seriously injured at a mine site in the Northern Territory after pouring fuel on a fire.

An investigation into the incident has been launched after it was revealed the 32-year-old foreigner was working at what has been described as a “cowboy” mine site.

Australian Ilmenite Resources mine, 105km east of Mataranka, is owned by Territory billionaire Jerry Ren.

NT News reported the site was placed into care and maintenance a month ago, and the worker and his wife, believed to be Vietnamese or Chinese, were the only people on site.

The pair were flown to Katherine Hospital by private helicopter, CareFlight director Ian Badham said.

The man is believed to have poured fuel on a fire before using his arms to protect his face from the flames.

“The patient’s condition deteriorated and required extensive stabilisation by our staff and by hospital staff,” Badham said.

“He was placed on a ventilator and flown to Darwin and then brought to Royal Darwin Hospital, and was then in a stable condition.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union NT organiser Bryan Wilkins had visited the mine site to recruit members, and said about 30 workers were present at the time.

“I’ve had huge concerns of (workers) who don’t have an understanding of safety procedures,” Wilkins said.

“A number of workers I’ve spoken to didn’t have a full understanding of English.

“It was a fairly cowboy operation. It wasn’t being run up to standard.

“We went out there to see if people wanted to join the union and they couldn’t understand English. It was quite surreal.

“There was no security – we informed Jerry Ren that we were visiting the site and he didn’t reply and we just drove in the gate.”

NT WorkSafe said they are aware of the incident and have launched an investigation.

Last month Ren, who has been named the richest person in the NT, announced three of his companies would go into receivership because they had failed to satisfy the terms of a loan.

Australian Ilmenite Resources (AIR), Australian Oil and Gas (AOG) and Sherwin Iron were all handed over to administrator KordaMentha.

More to come. 

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