Prospectors warned to be safe, use PBL and GPS

Prospectors have been warned to observe safety precautions
before heading out bush this winter.

Cooler weather makes winter a good time for prospecting in
the Western Australian goldfields, but WA mines and petroleum minister Michael
Graham has urged prospectors to carry personal locator beacons (PLB) or EPIRBs.

“They’re very small, they can fit in your pocket and even if
you’re getting out of your car, put it in your pocket as you go out,” Graham
said.

“It’s
almost like wearing a seatbelt in a car but it’s your seatbelt when you’re not
in your car.

Graham said there have been 22 prospectors that went
missing in the past two and a half years.

“Last year we had about 12 cases and one prospector
who went missing did have a personal locater beacon on them and we found them
within about four hours,” he said.

Graham also said that more than 3000 people were issued with
Miner’s Rights licenses this season.

Early last month a 76 year-old prospector, Peter O’Shaughnessy went missing while prospecting about 45 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie.

O’Shaughnessy was discovered within 24 hours of being
reported missing, but not before he had resorted to building a shelter and drinking
his own urine.

“The first sip is pretty hard to take, but you really just
moisten your lips. Because it’s pretty salty,” O’Shaughnessy told his daughter,
ABC Radio presenter Gillian O’Shaughnessy.

The helicopter pilot who found O’Shaughnessy said that he
would not have been spotted if he hadn’t been waving his metal detector in the
air.

O’Shaughnessy joined the state government campaign to
improve prospector safety, which has been aimed at saving the expense of
carrying out rescue searches.

An aircraft search can cost $5000 per hour.

O’Shaughnessy said that anyone travelling in a remote area should
also carry a GPS.

“If I’d had the GPS I’d have just gone straight back to the
car, they’re the simplest things in the world to use,” he said.

Last year a 46 year-old prospector, Michael Menzies, was
found dead near Menzies after a month-long search.

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