A mining supervisor, formerly from Ballarat, has faced court accused of murdering a colleague at a Pilbara mine site before allegedly being caught with the body wrapped up in a canvas ute cover.
Troy Hausler, 30, was charged on Tuesday after the body of Toby Richter, 40, was found at Pilbara Mineral's Pilgangoora lithium mine site around 6.30am on Monday.
Homicide detectives won't yet reveal exactly how Mr Richter was killed but Nine News Perth's Jerrie Demasi reported that police will allege Mr Hausler carried the body down an underground tunnel at the mine site and rolled it up inside a canvas ute cover.
Ms Demasi said police will further allege Mr Hausler was planning to move the concealed body to his vehicle but he was confronted by workers in the tunnel who spotted the victim's feet.
The discovery of Mr Richter's body caused operations at the site to be temporarily halted.
The two men were employed at the mine through crushing services contractor CSI Mining Services, an arm of WA miner Mineral Resources.
Mr Hausler, now from Craigie, appeared in South Hedland Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning and was remanded in custody to appear in Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court in Perth on November 27.
He will be held at Roebourne Prison before being transferred to Hakea Prison over the coming days.
According to his LinkedIn profile, the married father-of-two is originally from Ballarat and works for CSI as a maintenance supervisor.
It is understood he grew up in Ballarat and attended Ballarat High School.
A union representative said Mr Richter also worked for the same company.
In an unexpected twist, the victim has a family connection to one of Western Australia's highest profile murder cases.
Mr Richter's former partner was Toni Dodd, sister of murdered teenager, Hayley Dodd.
Hayley would have been aunty to his two children.
A family member of Mr Richter posted a tribute to social media and thanked the community for their help.
"Thank you all for the love and support you have shown me and my family. I can't reply to messages individually at the moment, there's too many, but thank you from the bottom of my [heart]," she wrote.
"It's going to be a long process from here ... I don't know how much more we can take."
The company requested a trading halt on the ASX on Monday following the incident.
On Tuesday, Pilbara Minerals restarted operations at the mine, which it expected would return to full production within two days.
A union representative said workers were being flown up to site to recommence work on Wednesday.
Mineral Resources general manager external affairs Gary Gray said the company was supporting both families and had offered counselling support to other employees.
"We reached out to both families as soon as we had police clearance to do so," he said.
"Mineral Resources is supporting its entire workforce during these difficult times, in particular, those who are working at Pilgangoora mine and their families.
"Our leadership and support team travelled to the site immediately and, as soon as the police released the site, employees who wanted to return home were supported in doing so.
"The support we are providing to staff and their families includes specialised counselling services."
Mr Gray said Mineral Resources was fully cooperating with the police and would continue to do so.
He said out of respect for the families it was inappropriate to comment further on the incident.
The Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum project is about 120km south-east from Port Hedland, and began commercial production in April 2019.
The project recently laid off 40 workers from the site and processing operations as well as some Perth staff as it dealt with a softening lithium market and reduced demand from its customers.
The company decided to scale back operations, which has seen mining operations slowed and the sale of existing stockpiles.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.