NT mine worker buried under collapsed wall

A major operation is under way to find a worker after a wall collapse at the NT's Bootu Creek mine.
A major operation is under way to find a worker after a wall collapse at the NT's Bootu Creek mine.

A man has been buried in soil and rock after a wall collapse at a mine in the Northern Territory with police describing the worker's chances of survival as low.

A major investigation is underway after the 59-year-old Darwin man became trapped when the wall collapsed at Bootu Creek Mine, about 110km north of Tennant Creek, on Saturday afternoon.

Superintendent Christopher Board described the wall failure as "substantial" with the site's instability delaying excavation efforts to rescue the man.

"Sadly due to the nature of the collapse, the information thus far indicates that the likelihood for survival is low," Supt Board told reporters in Darwin on Sunday.

"The instability of the site remains very real which has delayed any excavation of the site at this time."

Experts are due to arrive at the mine on Sunday afternoon to provide advice on the site's stability.

NT Worksafe will also travel to the site and investigate the incident with police and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

Supt Board described the situation as "volatile and unsafe" and extended his thoughts and prayers to the family of the 59-year-old man, his colleagues and emergency services on the scene.

The manganese ore mine is owned by Singapore-based company OM Holdings.

Primary Industry and Resources Minister Paul Kirby has instructed the company to stop all in-pit operations immediately.

"The incident ... is an absolute tragedy and my thoughts go to all the workers at the site and the families involved," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"Territorians have the right to go to work and return safely to their families."

The company exported the mine's first shipment of ore in 2006.

In 2013 it was fined $150,000 for desecrating a sacred Aboriginal site at Bootu Creek known as "Two Women Sitting Down" in what was described as a landmark ruling.

The ASX-listed business also operates in China, Japan, Malaysia and South Africa.

About 140 workers lost their jobs in December 2015 when the mine was mothballed and placed into the hands of administrators. It returned to full production in 2018.

In January, several wagons of manganese ore were lost after a Darwin-bound train coming from the Bootu Creek Mine derailed near Katherine.

The Adelaide to Darwin railway line was closed for three days as a result.

Australian Associated Press