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Australia in all-out search for mining chiefs

Australia vowed to leave "no stone unturned" on Monday after a plane carrying one of the country`s richest men and other mining bosses went missing over dense jungle in western Africa.

Sydney: Australia vowed to leave "no stone unturned" on Monday after a plane carrying one of the country`s richest men and other mining bosses went missing over dense jungle in western Africa.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised full diplomatic and consular assistance after the twin turboprop plane carrying tycoon Ken Talbot and other top personnel from Sundance Resources disappeared on Saturday.

"This is deeply concerning to all of us," Rudd told reporters.

"All of our diplomatic and consular resources are being dedicated to this... we will leave literally no stone unturned in our efforts to try and help what is a concerning set of developments for these families."

The plane was also carrying two people from France, two Britons and an American, as well as two crew, from Cameroon`s capital Yaounde to the Yangadou mine in neighbouring Congo, local authorities said.

The CASA C-212 plane lost contact with ground controllers shortly after take-off on Saturday morning. Cameroonian authorities suspended their search, involving four search planes and a helicopter, as night fell on Sunday.

Talbot is a non-executive director of Sundance, an iron ore miner, with estimated wealth of 965 million dollars (840 million US), according to BRW business magazine`s latest rich list.

Reports said the truck driver`s son first made his fortune through a network of pubs before founding successful mining company Macarthur Coal. However, he left Macarthur over corruption charges and is due to go on trial in August.

The plane was also carrying Sundance chairman Geoff Wedlock, an ex-head of BHP Billiton`s iron ore division, chief executive officer Don Lewis, company secretary John Carr-Gregg and non-executive directors John Jones and Craig Oliver.

"The families of the missing have been notified and are being supported during this deeply distressing time," the Perth-based company said in a statement.

On of the other passengers was Brisbane-based French national Natasha Flacon Brian, an executive with Talbot`s resources investment company, Talbot Group, reports said.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia`s High Commissioner to Nigeria had been sent to Cameroon along with two other officials.

"Of course it`s a very distressing time for the families and we continue to be very seriously concerned about the welfare of these six Australians," he told Sky News.

"It`s difficult terrain, thick jungle or forest... (the search) will also of course be subject to weather conditions."

Asian demand, especially from China, has prompted a boom in Australia`s resources sector, easing the country through the financial crisis and boosting the finances of the country`s mining elite.

Australia`s government has locked horns with the powerful mining industry over a planned new tax, prompting outspoken opposition politician Winston Tuckey to draw an indirect link with the crash.

"Why where they there? They were looking for iron ore," Tuckey told reporters.

"We have a tragic example of where the mining industry is now focusing its attention. We have a stark and tragic example, apparently, telling us what`s going on."

Bureau Report

From Zee News

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