BEACONSFIELD mine disaster survivor Brant Webb has rejected a coroner's finding that no one was responsible for the rockfall in 2006 that killed fellow miner, Larry Knight, and trapped Todd Russell and himself nearly a kilometre underground for a fortnight.
Coroner Rod Chandler found that although the mine operator had failed to heed the "clear warning" of two earlier rockfalls in the same part of the mine, and had chosen to ignore expert advice that their safety procedures were inadequate, "the evidence does not permit me to make a positive finding that any persons, corporation, or other entity, directly contributed to Mr Knight's death".
Mr Webb said yesterday that mine managers were aware of the dangers of mining at Beaconsfield at 925 metres below ground, but chose, because that depth yielded large amounts of gold, to put workers' lives at risk.
"Someone should have been held accountable … They knew it was unstable and they sent us down into that shithole," he said.
Mr Webb said the coroner's finding meant other mines would take chances too, putting profit before safety.
Larry Knight's brother, Shane, said he was disappointed with the finding. "I believe the actions of the mine were responsible for Larry's death," he said. "They had all the warning signs of all the falls prior to the April fall."
Beaconsfield's mining practices have changed since the 2006 accident. Miners are no longer in the mine drives while ore is being extracted.
Beaconsfield Gold's chief executive, Bill Colvin, was pleased with the coroner's main finding but strongly disagreed with comments that the mine had failed to assess properly the risk to its miners. "There was rigorous risk assessment, the mine did vary its ground support system and it changed its mining method," he said.
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