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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 05:07 pm

It may still be two days before miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb are brought to the surface; maybe less. Mining expert Amal Battacharya:

When they excavate, they’ve got to support the rock as they go along, otherwise other people will be in danger. So they are driving in a new tunnel hopefully, in somewhat, shall we say, stable rock.

And these 12 metres that they’re getting into, I don’t know again what is the situation there, but they’re getting probably to the zone of broken rock, and they’ll have to take extreme care so that other tonnes of rocks don’t come down on the other people.

By Battacharya’s estimate, those final tricky metres could be covered within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Kim Beazley is scoring political points. For shame! Have you no decency sir? Etc.

UPDATE. Naomi, one of the vertical carp over at Mark Bahnisch’s learning-to-write collective, blames company orders:

… this miracle can’t distract us from the reality of this disaster. These men were going about their daily work, under orders from a company that was pushing the geological envelope to make a buck.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/30/2006 at 10:57 PM
    1. I hope they make it.

      Beazley’s grandstanding is despicable.

      Posted by Evil Pundit on 2006 04 30 at 11:02 PM • permalink


    1. You’ve gotta give it to big Kimbo – an ALP Government would reduce workplace accidents significantly by raising unemployment.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 04 30 at 11:11 PM • permalink


    1. I’m surprised Bill Shorten didn’t make the ‘connection’ first.

      And for the record…

      Pam Anderson has one and Kim is one.

      Posted by Jay Santos on 2006 04 30 at 11:12 PM • permalink


    1. I’m surprised Beazley didn’t note how this demonstrates the dangers Australian troops face in Iraq.

      Posted by Aaron – Freewill on 2006 04 30 at 11:18 PM • permalink


    1. G.W. Bush didn’t reduce greenhouse gasses.

      Greenhouse gasses caused more storms.

      Storms put stresses on tectonic plates.

      Stresses on the tectonic plates caused tremors.

      Tremors caused the cave it at the mine in Tassie.

      QED it is all G.W. Bush’s fault.

      Posted by lingus4 on 2006 04 30 at 11:25 PM • permalink


    1. More news from Kimbo’s May Day rally in Brisbane . . . . Plumbers union concern at lack of young people celebrating May Day.

      Sounds like John Howard’s South Park Conservatives are too busy making money to indulge in class warfare.

      Posted by Oafish and Infantile on 2006 04 30 at 11:26 PM • permalink


    1. He said training the miners received in occupational health and safety issues helped them survive, and skills rescuers acquired over the years could help bring them to the surface.

      During the last ten years of Liberal leadership Kim?

      “It is the sort of activity and action and this sort of understanding which the Howard government wants to rip out of industrial relations,” Mr Beazley said.

      Really? the Government’s new laws aim to stop OH and S?

      The opposition leader has repeatedly said Labor will axe the controversial new workplace laws if it wins the next election.

      Yeah, no worries Kimbo, just like the GST eh?

      Posted by Nic on 2006 04 30 at 11:33 PM • permalink


    1. lingus4 — Don’t forget the nukes we set off in the Indian Ocean to start the tsunamis…

      BTW, it dropped off the news radar over here.  How did Darwin do with Monica?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 30 at 11:38 PM • permalink


    1. The union shill the AWU sent down here has been polluting the local ABC from day one. It won’t do the union movement any favours, having a rep blaming the problem on the management when people are still buried alive and no invesitgation has been carried out.

      Posted by Tasman on 2006 04 30 at 11:46 PM • permalink


    1. Big Kimbo has a penchant for this, its the second time in a couple of days. He tried to make political mileage also over the tragic events with Kovco, blaming the Defence Minister for the stuff-up. At least Rudd had the decency to withold any comments until an enquiry have determined what happened

      Posted by doz on 2006 04 30 at 11:52 PM • permalink


    1. #8—Monica fizzled out before reaching Darwin. Some small communities in the Gulf were affected, but there were no fatalities.

      Posted by Evil Pundit on 2006 05 01 at 12:01 AM • permalink


    1. #3

      Pam Anderson has one and Kim is one.

      Kim Beazley’s a rock star?


      At least Rudd had the decency to withold any comments until an enquiry have determined what happened

      Kevin Rudd is one of the few Labor members who I respect.

      Posted by Dan Lewis on 2006 05 01 at 12:30 AM • permalink


    1. Beazley’s a blithering idiot and even (ex-Labour Prime Minister) Paul Keating thinks the Labour Party has lost the plot.

      Posted by ilibcc on 2006 05 01 at 12:35 AM • permalink


    1. Work with what you’ve got, and if that’s all Kim’s got then the IR changes look to be safe for another 18 years. Bless.

      Posted by erin_j on 2006 05 01 at 12:46 AM • permalink


    1. #8 Monica blew more in Washington than in Darwin.

      Posted by lingus4 on 2006 05 01 at 01:15 AM • permalink


    1. #3:  Jay, don’t you mean Pamela Anderson has TWO?  I hope so, anyhoo…..

      I’m glad to hear this good news.  I hope it stays so.

      And afterwards, as a sacrifice to appease Mother Gaia™, stuff Beazley and the other brainless twitters into the hole for backfill.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 01 at 01:39 AM • permalink


    1. #16

      I thought “boob” as well, but then I thought harder and realised the question “Women have one and Beazley is one” would do just as well.

      Pamela Anderson was just a distraction (and is certainly easy to be distracted by)

      Posted by Dan Lewis on 2006 05 01 at 01:49 AM • permalink


    1. 12
      Dan Lewis must be the man we’ve been searching the nation for – somebody who respects Krudd.

      Posted by Ian Deans on 2006 05 01 at 02:00 AM • permalink


    1. Which side of the fence was Beazely sitting on? One day he is going to do himself a big injury.
      Wish someone would tell that little [forget his first name] Swan that ALL Australians do not agree with him at all.He is off with the fairies.

      Posted by waussie on 2006 05 01 at 02:13 AM • permalink


    1. #18 Angellis, I thought that was a brave call by Dan as well.  Bomber, bumbler as he may be, is made of much more palatable stuff that the combat pixie possum.  Just ask anyone from the Qld ALP.

      Posted by entropy on 2006 05 01 at 02:42 AM • permalink


    1. btw, Kevin Andrew has finally grown some cajones and has called on beazley to apologise

      Posted by entropy on 2006 05 01 at 03:53 AM • permalink


    1. Tim, you made me laugh but I don’t know why I laughed…

      Why is Naomi a “vertical carp”?

      The missus and I still laugh at your description of Thomas Keneally as “Irish halfbeard”.

      Posted by Honkie Hammer on 2006 05 01 at 04:44 AM • permalink


    1. … this miracle can’t distract us from the reality of this disaster. These men were going about their daily work, under orders from a company that was pushing the geological envelope to make a buck

      Hmmm..  this is something I know a little about.  That and South Australian shiraz.

      There was no ‘pushing of the geological envelope’. Whilst 925 metres underground sounds impressive & scary, its not close to the deepest mine by a long way.  Try about 3,000 metres.

      Australia is a major mining country and we have heaps of mines deeper than Beaconsfield.  And ones that make bigger voids underground.

      The study of rock stress at various depths is very sophisticated and mining methods adapt to the stress regime.

      Folks, this was an accident, caused by a seismic event beyond anything that was predicted.  Should it have been predicted?  Well, probably, if you think ‘predicting’ a magnitude 6 earthquake in New York or Sydney is reasonable.

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 01 at 06:00 AM • permalink


    1. By the way, “mining expert” Amal Battacharya, quoted by our beloved ABC can only be described as gormless.  What he’s been saying is the mining equivalent of “people should look both ways before crossing the road”.  Yes, OK, but what expertise are you adding for our viewers?

      There is about 12m of solid rock between rescue and the trapped men.  You can’t drill and blast (progress – about 3m/12 hr shift in normal conditions; 12m / day in emergency) because – well, because you risk shaking more rock down on the men and when you ‘break through’, you’ll blow up the men (as well as gas them).

      So, you need to grind the rock away.  A small hole (abt 3” to start with, to get water & food), then widening it out.  How long?  Depends how wide the grinding face is.  Not common, so… at least 2 days.  Don’t forget the place where the crew is working is cramped; so setting up and drilling is itself very difficult.

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 01 at 06:15 AM • permalink


    1. Love this sort of drama.

      What I don’t like is two bit mining companies (otherwise known as “juniors”) trying to disturb my own backyard.
      I love the Upper Clarence, but Malachite want to sink a Beaconsfield type shaft down half a km on Joe’s Gully on the Upper Tooloom.
      Bugger off you lot. Where did you get those so called “nuggets” on your website to flog off another round of spec shares. Anyone with a knowledge of history knows that this was not a nugget field. Shades of the scams from that dreadful 1970s
      Let the Upper Clarence rest in peace with the ghosts of the past undisturbed. The ghosts are there and they will haunt you if you think you can replicate the crap that goes on down south. Thank God the hippies at Nimbin are ever alert to raping the forests at Ewingar and the Ross Mining crap outside Tenterfield.
      But gawd I do love the sheer drama of Beaconsfield. Please. It’s great drama, but not anywhere near us.

      Posted by MarshallD on 2006 05 01 at 06:34 AM • permalink


    1. G’day MarshallD

      Just wrote a long ripost, then realised – you are doing a ‘Margos Maid’ piss-take aren’t you?

      No-one could say that they are enjoying the “sheer drama” at Beaconsfield and be serious.

      The ghosts are there and they will haunt you if you think you can replicate the crap that goes on down south.
      You mean marriage, elections and laws against incest – that sort of crap?

      If Malcachite are proposing to sink a shaft in your back yard, they will need your permission, so don’t worry.

      Never heard of Malachite but they sound as though they may be on to something.  I’ll phone my broker in the morning and see if I can’t get behind them.

      Thanks MarshallD !

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 01 at 07:17 AM • permalink


    1. #4 Truly monumentally superb stuff up on local ABC which besmirched an innocent digger in Iraq,placing the sub-title “Union Leader Bill Shorten” beneath his image..
      “Bill Shorten———at the poppet head in Beaconsfield Tasmania
      and simultaneously morphed into an Aussie digger on the front line in Iraq…
      that’s your ABC folks..
      Other best part -Matt Brown’s fat head encased in a combat helmet,fetchingly clashing with his civvies.

      Posted by crash on 2006 05 01 at 07:43 AM • permalink


    1. SCD:

      Depth (confining pressure) isn’t the only factor here; rock mechanics is. What I can find out about Beaconsfield is that it’s a dilational quartz-carbonate vein in slaty sediments, which could present a ground problem if you take the most competent piece (the vein itself) out.

      Also, at 925m in relatively plastic rock there shouldn’t be any sudden bursting surprises—unless you have bad ground.

      Balanced against that you don’t see many rock bolts in pictures on the company web site. That implies the wall rock isn’t too prone to swelling or spalling. The stopes in some of the pictures are quite large, something you couldn’t do in very bad ground.

      So this rockfall may indeed be a bit of a freak, or the bad ground might be quite localized. In the latter event, the technical staff should (you could say “must”) have known it was a bad area. In the former case, you’re right that prediction is a complete crapshoot.

      Naomi the Vertical Carp might even be right about this (although probably for the wrong reasons).

      There’s the matter of the continuing seismic bumps in the area. Obviously the open workings are letting go somewhere, but without a detailed rock mechanics picture I agree you can’t just blame it on bad mining practice.

      Go easy on Bhattacharya. He probably got phoned up with about 40 seconds to prepare, and wouldn’t have the benefit of any local knowledge about Beaconsfield!

      God and St. Barbara, protect the miners.

      Posted by Jim Whyte on 2006 05 01 at 12:06 PM • permalink


  • Uh-oh. Let me see if I can fix this.

    Posted by Jim Whyte on 2006 05 01 at 12:07 PM • permalink



    1. Those sneaky italics…

      Posted by PW on 2006 05 01 at 03:56 PM • permalink


    1. G’day Jim

      Not sure of your background, but most of your comments whilst not wrong in general, I’d suggest are mostly not applicable to the Beaconsfield situation.  And by the sound of it, you’d appreciate that the mechanical properties of rocks are strongly controlled by confining pressure (and temperature).  At surface: brittle; at depth: more ductile; at great depth: more plastic.

      Plastic rock and bursting surprises: There was a minor earthquake.  You don’t need bad ground for the rock to fall in those circumstances although obviously the weaker ground will fall in preference.

      Rock bolts: In extreme circumstances (such as an earthquake) the rocks will fall in big enough lumps with bolts still in ‘em.  I can assure you that rock bolting and meshing is widely used at Beaconsfield – I’ve been down that hole a couple of times.

      Technical staff knowing it must have been a bad area:  Every mine opening in every mine in the world would consist of potentially “bad ground” if an earthquake hits.  To imply that the technical staff “knew” that it was a “bad area”, and yet had people working there anyway, is pretty crook.

      Go easy on Bhattacharya. He probably got phoned up with about 40 seconds to prepare, and wouldn’t have the benefit of any local knowledge about Beaconsfield! :  Precisely.  So he should have the sense to keep his trap shut.  But he’s an academic.  There are hundreds (?thousands) of rock mechanic experts working in industry who the ABC could have approached for a more informed comment.  Some of them may have direct knowledge of Beaconsfield.  Yet the ABC loves its academics and the academics love getting their mug on the ABC.

      Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 01 at 06:40 PM • permalink


    1. Boy – the people here are going to look foolish when Naomi reveals her extensive geological/mining qualifications. Might take her a while to type up all those letters after her name, so just be patient.

      Of course, the most important thing Australians can do to prevent mining deaths is to significantly expand uranium exports. According to official statistics, 7,200 chinese coal miners died in 2003.

      But I guess this will be discussed in detail by the compassionate folk at the lard-arse rodeo.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 05 01 at 08:36 PM • permalink


    1. Hi SCD:

      Background—a geologist, mostly employed where the sun shines. Not a rock mechanics guy. To address your points….

      Rock bolts (I’m goin’ nowhere near the italics button now—thanks PW):

      You’ve been down there, you’d know better than I would. I also see by the coverage they were putting up mesh, so that’s that.

      I was going by some u/g pix on Beaconsfield’s web site, which was one every 4-5m and no mesh (unless the mesh had been shotcreted over, but it didn’t look like that). Certainly what you tell me fits better with the wall rock type, and implies poorer ground; I found it surprising that they had few bolts in a slaty rock.

      And I realize bolts avail you nothing if really big bits are coming down. And then mesh just juliennes you like you’re Sylvester the Cat. [/black humour from a friend at Macassa]

      Local bad ground:

      I did say if (in the conditional sense)…not implying they knew and were stoping anyway. Since Russell and Webb were putting up mesh, not drilling or mucking, it seems clear this was not a case of putting men in harm’s way to get production.


      If there’s been a series of bumps centred on the mine, what’s causing that? It’s absolutely fair to say nothing helps if there’s an earthquake, but if the mine is causing the quakes by (hypothetically) slow backfilling, then nature’s not the culprit. Any local knowledge on that?

      I’m not trying to nail mine management here, just trying to understand what might have caused this. Grateful for your comments, and let’s all keep St. Barbara’s mind on her work.


      Posted by Jim Whyte on 2006 05 02 at 10:59 AM • permalink


    1. Still no information on how much longer it will take to reach these guys and get them out. They are helping to direct the drilling.

      One of them asked if he could have a copy of Saturday’s newspaper. When asked why, he explained it was because he wanted to look for another job.

      You have to take your hat off. God, I hope it works out alright.

      Posted by geoff on 2006 05 02 at 09:24 PM • permalink


    1. NineMSN is reporting another 48 hours ie Friday or ten days since the fall. But they’ve been saying that for days now.

      Posted by geoff on 2006 05 02 at 09:36 PM • permalink


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