Life-risking rescue at BMA mine

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance avoided a fatality at its Saraji coal mine last month, according to a miner who risked his life to save a dump truck operator from a fire which started in the engine.
Life-risking rescue at BMA mine Life-risking rescue at BMA mine Life-risking rescue at BMA mine Life-risking rescue at BMA mine Life-risking rescue at BMA mine

BMA's Saraji open cut mine in Queensland.

Blair Price

The incident left the 51-year-old driver in a specialist burns unit in Brisbane and the mine had to inspect its fleet of 793C dump trucks.

While the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines revealed the blaze was caused by an engine fire, Saraji miner Daniel Howard has provided more details.

“The engine of the truck actually exploded, which sprayed oil over the truck, which then caught on fire,” the 26-year-old told the Wingham Chronicle regional newspaper.

"The guy had to jump off the top of the truck and he dislocated his shoulder.

"He was just a metre from the truck and couldn't move, and he was screaming out 'it burns, it burns'.

"That's all we could hear, and he was going into shock from the pain of his burns."

Howard said he broke protocol with three other men to rescue the truck operator.

"I knew we had enough time to get out, but I was terrified we were all going to burn," he told the newspaper

"It took about 11 minutes and the funny thing is he said for him it felt like hours, but for me it felt like 20 seconds."

Despite risking his life, Howard said he would it again.

“Workers have died from incidents like this before, so it was very much a matter of life or death," he reportedly said.

Howard told the newspaper that the operator had received skin grafts on his hands and was expected to remain in hospital for three more months.

"His doctor said if it wasn't for us, he would be dead," Howard said.

"I went to see him in hospital and he's pretty good now and he's in high spirits."

ICN is seeking comment from BMA. An investigation into the matter is underway.

The Bowen Basin open cut coal mine shed 230 jobs in February.