Police said a man who went missing at Glencore’s Mt Isa Mines is believed to have fallen into an orepass.
The news comes as the search for Brett Kelly, 34, shifted on Friday from a rescue to a recovery mission, after he had been missing for more than three days.
Mount Isa Police Inspector Trevor Kidd said the orepass, where Kelly is believed to have fallen, is too hazardous to access, North West Star reported.
"It's extremely dangerous – we can't send people down,'" Kidd said.
However, Kidd said police and Glencore are committed to retrieving Kelly.
"We're still doing everything humanly possible to go about it,'' he said.
"It is a big logistical operation,that is what we will be doing today, we will be getting together, and working out the best way to try and examine this shaft and its contents.”
The orepass is located one kilometre underground at the mine’s copper operations, and is believed to contain around 100 000 tonnes of pre-crushed rock, which is sent via conveyors for further crushing and processing.
Mining operations were halted when Kelly was reported missing at 3:30pm on Wednesday, however it is understood that he was last seen at 11:30am that day.
Kidd said police had consulted with medical experts who had advised on the likelihood of being able to survive a fall in to an orepass.
Police are working with Glencore and the Queensland Mining and Safety Mining Inspectorate on the best way to recover Kelly’s body.
Meanwhile a formal investigation has been launched into the circumstances around Kelly’s disappearance.
A report for the coroner will be prepared by two senior mines inspectors and a principal investigator.
“Police have released parts of the mine’s underground workings associated with the disappearance of the miner to allow the investigation to start,” a Department of Natural Resources and Mines spokesman said.