BHP halts iron ore operations after worker death

Posted on 08 July 2011

Global mining giant BHP Billiton halted port and rail operations at its massive Australian iron ore deposit Thursday after a worker was reportedly crushed by a crane, police said.


The 27-year-old was killed at Finucane Island, part of BHP's Port Hedland export docks on Australia's west coast, shortly after midnight, a police spokeswoman said.


'It's believed that he was crushed by a crane, but that will be part of the investigation by the coroner,' the spokeswoman told AFP.


BHP said its port and rail operations were 'in the process of being suspended until further notice' following the incident, with police and emergency workers in attendance.


BHP's Pilbara deposit, in the minerals-rich Kimberley region, underpins its global iron ore operations with seven mines, more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) of rail and two separate port facilities.


It plans to pump Aus$7.4 billion (US$7.9 billion) into expanding its Pilbara iron ore operations to annual capacity of 220 million tonnes to meet surging demand for the key steelmaking ingredient from fast-growing China.


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