A fight at a Western Australian Lithium mine following a pre-start meeting has ended in a one worker dead and another in Police custody.

Homicide Police have commenced an investigation into the circumstances that resulted in the workers’ death at the Pilbara Mineral’s Pilgangoora lithium mine on 6.30 am Monday morning.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Western Australian Police Greg Knott said that Police were called to the mine site 130km south of Port Hedland on Monday morning and, on arrival at the site, they confirmed the death of a man in his 40s.

“The man’s death is being treated as suspicious,” Commissioner Knott said.

A 30-year-old man is currently in custody and assisting with the investigation, WA Police confirmed.

AMSJ has been informed that the incident has left site workers traumatised.

Pilbara Minerals Limited also confirmed in a media statement said that it regrets to advise that a death occurred earlier today as a result of an incident unrelated to mining operations which occurred between personnel at its Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project (Pilgangoora Project) in the Pilbara region.

As a result, the Homicide Squad of the Western Australian Police Force has been deployed to investigate. Pilbara Minerals is cooperating with this investigation and cannot provide any further details. Pilbara Minerals is unable to provide any further comment and any inquiries should be directed to the WA Police Force Media Unit.

Operations have been temporarily suspended to facilitate the investigation.
Pilbara Minerals is doing everything it can to support the wellbeing of its workers at this difficult time. Pilbara Managing Director, Ken Brinsden said, “I am extremely shocked and saddened by what has occurred today. At this difficult time, our focus is on ensuring that our people are cared for and supported, while we continue to support the police investigation that is currently underway.

On behalf of Pilbara Minerals, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the affected people and their families.”

The miner had called a trading halt on shares yesterday.

Workplace violence can be any incident where a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising out of, or in the course of their work.

  • The violence can be either directed at the person or as a result of witnessing violence against someone else.

The definition of workplace violence covers a broad range of actions and behaviours that create a risk to the health and safety of all workers. Examples include:

  • biting, spitting, scratching, hitting, kicking
  • punching, pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing
  • throwing objects
  • verbal threats
  • aggravated assault
  • any form of indecent physical contact
  • threatening someone with a weapon or armed robbery.

Safe Work Australia found that in 2014/15, 22% of workers reported being physically assulted or threatened in their workplace. They also found that 15% of mental health claims were a result of occupational violence.

Although we do not have an extensive amount of reasearch in Australia in regards to actual physical violence in the workplace causing fatalities, from the information that is out there, we can make some assumptions that we are starting to progress in comparison to America.

In America from 1980 to 1989, homicide was the third leading cause of death at work (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], 1993a); in 1992 and 1993, it was the second leading cause of death at work in the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], 1993; 1994a; 1995) (Perrone, 1999).

Workplace violence can seriously impact both the employer and the employees. The effects can include varying financial costs for medical and psychological care, propert y damage, decreased productivity, increased security, litigation, WHS penalties (Gates, 1999)

Below are the ‘reasons for workplace violence’ information from April 2019 in America (Lebron, 2019)

Reason for workplace violence:

  • There have been 150 employee-on-employee killings since 2010
  • 2 out of 3 workplace homicides are committed by someone not close to the victim
  • 21 percent of workplace homicide perpetrators are co-workers
  • Robberies account for 85% of workplace violence deaths
  • Employees with potential to commit workplace violence tend to exhibit 8 behaviors such as acting out of character or exhibiting addictive habits
  • The two most common traits when it comes to those who commit white-collar workplace violence are narcissism and psychopathy

Workplace interventions should focus on establishing systems to enable upwards and downwards communication about bullying and harassment, and participation of all levels of the organisation in monitoring, establishing controls, awareness raising, education and training on matters relevant to bullying, harassment, and risk factors .

This can be achived by changing work conditions that predispose bullying such as high demand, high pressure, high competition, and low control / power situations in the workplace via job redesign principles (Parker, 2015).


15 November, 2019

Safe Work Austrailia – https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/workplace-violence

Perrone, S., ‘Violence in the Workplace’, Australian institute of criminology research and public policy series, No. 22, 1999

Lebron, A., ‘The latest on workplace violence statistics’, Rave Mobile Safety, April 2019, https://www.ravemobilesafety.com/blog/latest-workplace-violence-statistics