Two brave miners. A croc-infested river. What's the connection?
30 June 2020
The lifesaving actions of McArthur River Mine’s (MRM) John Waerea and North Australian Helicopters pilot Matthew Irving have been recognised by the highest order, with the duo named recipients of the Governor-General’s Bravery Medal for a complex rescue they performed at the McArthur River.
John and Matthew received the accolade after rescuing two men who had become stranded in the river on the roof of their car near Cape Crawford for over 24-hours on Australia Day in 2018.
John, who is a long-standing employee at MRM and Captain of the Emergency Response Team, and North Australia Helicopter’s pilot Matthew, had to use their judgement under pressure on how to best rescue the men after receiving the call up from Borroloola Police.
The men, who had been trying to cross the swollen and crocodile infested river in their hire car, thought their time was up, later telling MRM staff he had been prepared for the worst.
Following a quick practice run on the side of the highway, it was decided that Matthew would position the helicopter one-metre above the vehicle with John retrieving the men one by one, something neither John nor Matthew had attempted before.
The quick judgement call and practice run paid off with the pair being successfully and safely rescued by John and Matthew before nightfall.
MRM General Manager Steven Rooney praised the duo for their courageous act, staying calm and following safety procedures during the difficult rescue.
“I couldn’t be prouder that the quick-thinking and courageous actions of John and Matthew have been formally recognised outside MRM,” he said.
“The pair are the perfect example of the high standard of people we employ and engage at MRM; the type of people that demonstrate bravery and put the needs of others above their own.”
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McArthur River Mining
McArthur River Mining (MRM) is located in the Northern Territory approximately 970 kilometres south-east from Darwin and 60 kilometres south-west of its closest town of Borroloola. MRM mines one of the world’s largest zinc and lead deposits. Established as an underground operation in 1995, MRM converted to open pit mining in 2006. MRM produces zinc and lead in concentrates which are primarily exported through Bing Bong loading facility on the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The current mine life extends to 2036.
The mine provides direct employment to about 1,000 people, including contractors. In 2018, we spent $84.7 million on wages, $59.4 million on capital projects, $321.4 million on goods and services – much of which we sourced locally – and $1.8 million on community investment projects.