BHPs Cannington mine idle as worker death probed

BHPs Cannington mine idle as worker death probed

Australia’s giant Cannington silver, lead and zinc mine remained shut indefinitely pending the outcome of company and police investigations, four days after a worker was killed, owner BHP Billiton Ltd./Plc. BLT.L said on Tuesday.

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman said it was too early since the closure of the world’s biggest single source of silver to determine if shipments of metal to customers would be deferred or the more serious declaration of force majeure would be declared.

“It is early days and still too early to say how long the mine will stay shut because the investigations are now underway,” the spokeswoman said.

The mine, in eastern Queensland state, was closed last Friday following the death of a 19-year-old worker who was believed to have been performing electrical work.

Cannington is also the world’s largest single source of lead, with long-term smelter supply contracts in Australia, Korea, Europe and Japan.

The mine produced 5.7 million ounces of silver, 48,977 tonnes of lead and 10,426 tonnes of zinc in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

BHP Billiton shares were down 1 percent to A$25.38 on Tuesday, in step with declines in the wider market .AXJO. ($1=A$1.28)

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