QUEENSLAND coal producer Ensham Resources has used helicopters to evacuate employees stranded at the flooded central Queensland mine.
Massive floodwaters cut through the mine on the weekend, with water engulfing one of the mine’s draglines.
The water entered the mine as floodwaters moved down the Theresa Creek into the Nogoa River.
“Our first priority is the safety of our people and the wellbeing of their families in this challenging situation,” Ensham Resources CEO John Pegler said.
“This means helping those facing devastation at home as well as getting on with mine operations and recovery of flooded pits,” he said.
Many employees were allowed to go home before the flood hit the mine access road last Friday, while others elected to stay on site and help with flood preparations.
While the initial flooding was mostly attributable to floodwaters in the Theresa Creek system, the subsequent floodwater releases from Fairbairn Dam and uncontrolled flows into the Nogoa River worsened the situation.
“The flooding is unprecedented in our experience,” Pegler said.
The speed of rising floodwaters overwhelmed one of the slow moving draglines while it was moving out of the deepest pit, despite employees’ efforts.
The dragline became completely submerged by flood waters.
Three other draglines have been moved to higher ground, with one machine continuing to work in a pit in the north of the mine.
Ensham will be unable to meet immediate shipping schedules, and recovery options will be considered in the weeks after the flood.