One week after moving to her rural property in Collie Burn, two hours' drive from Perth, Pia Ramsing discovered a 10-metre-deep sinkhole on her land.
It wasn't there when she moved in on July 26 last year, and appeared overnight, right where she'd been walking the day before.
Had she known her land was built on top of an abandoned mine from 1903, she "never would have bought it", she told Yahoo News Australia. No one told her of the mystery lurking below the surface of her 2.3 hectare property, so the discovery left her "shocked" and confused.
"I knew Collie was a mining town but I didn’t think people would sell the land where they had shallow mines," the 57-year-old said. "I just had no idea."
Plans for dream home crushed: 'Nowhere else to go'
Realising the 8-metre-wide cavity appeared where she'd been walking a day earlier, Ms Ramsing said she "could have been buried alive". But after inspecting the property and investigating further, the Collie woman noticed the problem was worse than she thought.
"Next to the sinkhole there’s another hollow area and that could be another potential area at risk," she said. What's worse, her plans to build her dream home on the land have been axed.
Currently, Ms Ramsing lives in a truck on the property which she converted into a mobile home. Her goal for retirement was to build a large house on her land which is now deemed unstable and unsafe.
"I don't have anywhere else to go and I have my animals that need feeding, so I can’t just up and go," she told Yahoo. "I was hoping to sit by a nice fireplace this winter, but since I can’t build anything, and I don’t know where to build, I will be in my truck for winter down in Collie, which is cold," she said.
Woman's plea for help ignored by authorities
Months later, Ms Ramsing said is no closer to getting help. The West Australian woman said she's been ignored and brushed off by various authorities who have allegedly claimed they "only deal with active mines".
"Through a lot of emails and talk, the last email that I got was I'm pretty much on my own," she told the ABC.
The previous owner told her he "had no idea" about the underground mines. She's also being "ignored" by the agent who sold her the land.
No funding available for mines on 'private land'
In a statement to the ABC, WA's Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) said that Collie was formerly known for its mining and potential buyers should do their due diligence and check for abandoned mines.
"Anyone purchasing property over known mining areas should conduct careful due diligence. There are publicly available maps and plans that show the location of abandoned mine features," it said.
It also said The Mining Rehabilitation Fund (MRF) — a government fund set up for rehabilitation work on abandoned mine sites — did not have enough money to help Ms Ramsing, and it "does not generally prioritise features on private land without freely available access" because "the risk to the broader community is very low".
"It's not right. Mining companies make billions of dollars and they can’t even invest a little to rejuvenate the areas they’ve ruined," Ms Ramsing told Yahoo. She also noted other sinkholes in the area that have appeared on the other side of the road, where a school bus travels down twice a day.
Former WA minister calls for help
Former Labor member for Collie Mick Murray said Ms Ramsing should be offered more support.
"The abandoned mines fund that was created quite sometime back now surely must have funding in it for people such as this," Mr Murray said.
"Things were put in place to make sure it didn't happen but of course, now and again, some of those places that are extremely old, you know, earth will take its natural course."
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