Rio Tinto suspends work at Gove operations following fatal accident

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Image credit: www.riotinto.com. Photographer: Christian Sprogoe PhotographyDate: 27 July 2009

Rio Tinto (RIO.AX), the global mining and metals company, announced that it has temporarily suspended bauxite mining at its soon-to-shut-down Gove operations in Australia following the death of a worker who was fatally injured while performing maintenance work.

Image courtesy of http://www.riotinto.com. Photographer: Christian Sprogoe Photography  Date: 27 July 2009
Image courtesy of http://www.riotinto.com. Photographer: Christian Sprogoe Photography
Date: 27 July 2009

According to the report on Reuters, the company has also halted all non-essential activity at an adjoining alumina refinery for at least 24 hours.

“We will be pausing all operations at the mine,” it said in the statement sent to Reuters.

The employee is believed to be a 61-year-old fitter from Queensland, whose son, also an employee at the refinery, was one of the first people at the scene of the incident. Police, ambulance and the site emergency response team attended to the incident but could not save the employee.

According to other sources, Rio Tinto is providing support to the employee’s family and work colleagues and has initiated an investigation into the incident, while working closely with the relevant authorities.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family and colleagues at this time,” it said in the statement by the company.

The Gove operation produces over 8.2 million tonnes of bauxite and 2.7 million tonnes of alumina a year; however the refinery is set to be shut down by the end of July, which will result in the loss of over 1200 jobs.

Rio announced the shutdown of the refinery last November, stating that it was unprofitable, but added that it would continue mining bauxite for export.

Rio Tinto is a world leader in production of bauxite, alumina and aluminium.

For more information about the company, visit http://www.riotinto.com.au/index_aboutus.asp#/aluminium