Five miners were nearly killed on Friday after explosives misfired and detonated while they were only metres away.
The incident occurred at the Drayton open cut coal mine in NSW, injuring five miners including the mine manager.
Investigators said the group had placed five charges as part of routine blasting, but entered the firing area after one of the charges failed to explode.
The workers were approximately five metres from the charge when it went off, in what the Department of Primary Industries has labeled a rare “one in a million” accident.
“It was a technical issue but it’s such a one-off,” Department spokesperson Jenny Ward told the Newcastle Herald.
“One of our investigators said that in his 25 years’ worth of experience he has never heard of it before,” she added.
It is standard practice for miners to approach unfired explosives after ten seconds.
Of the five, three were flown to John Hunter hospital with serious internal chest and abdominal injuries, but were reported in a stable condition as of Saturday night.
One was taken to Muswellbrook Hospital as a precaution but was later released.
The mine manager returned to work after the blast.
A full investigation will now be carried out by the Department, the manufacturer of the explosives and the Drayton Mine.
CFMEU Hunter region Peter Jordan stated that “Drayton is very lucky that they got away with only these injuries and not five fatalities.”