THE operation to retrieve miner Brett Michael Kelly’s body from an ore pit lasted eight days with search teams designated to 12-hour shifts.
Search teams were able to find the body in the early hours of yesterday morning after combing through 8000 tonnes of copper ore by hand.
Glencore’s North Queensland copper operations chief operating officer Mike Westerman said he was saddened by Mr Kelly’s death.
“I have been deeply saddened by this tragic situation and my thoughts remain with Brett’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time,” he said.
The ore was removed by specialist equipment and then searched by teams of up to a dozen police forensic officers, Mount Isa Mines employees, and Safety and Health Mining Inspectorate officers at any given time.
The teams worked 12-hour shifts during the massive operation, searching bucket load by bucket load by hand for Mr Kelly’s remains.
The ore pit contained more than 100,000 tonnes of ore and is more than one kilometre deep.
Inspector Trevor Kidd, of Mount Isa police, said the body still needed to be formally identified.
The process could take several days, Inspector Kidd said.
A report as to how Mr Kelly fell into the ore pass will also be sent to the coroner and investigations are continuing.
The around-the-clock recovery operation lasted eight days.
“I can’t emphasise the level of commitment by everyone involved; everyone gave 100 per cent,” Inspector Kidd said.
Inspector Kidd said he had been based in Mount Isa for eight years and in this time, he had never been part of such a large operation.
“This one is certainly unique in regards to the nature of the operation,” he said.
Mr Kelly was reported missing from the mine site on Wednesday, June 18.
The site was searched and the initial search-and-rescue phase of the operation ended two days later after it was believed Mr Kelly fell into the ore pass.
After complex and comprehensive planning by all agencies involved, a recovery operation began to locate Mr Kelly’s body. Meetings were held daily during the planning stage.
Recovery operations began on Monday, June 30.
Mount Isa Mines has been working closely with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the Queensland Police Service throughout the extensive recovery effort.
Support services are available to Mount Isa Mines employees and their families.
Anyone with information that could assist the inquiry should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800333000 or visit the website at crimestoppers.com.au.