An accident at Yancoal’s Austar mine claimed the lives of two miners who were working 500 metres below the surface when the accident occurred.
According to the article on ABC, a wall collapse which occurred 10 kilometres from the mine’s entry point has killed Philip Grant (35) of Metford and Jamie Mitchell (49) of Aberdare. Both of them were working with five other miners when the accident happened.
The General Manager of New South Wales Mines Rescue, Paul Healey, said recovering the bodies would be a difficult task.
“It’s very, very important that we look after the safety of the people doing the recovery and people assisting in that process. We’ve been to the site and we can see what needs to be done but there’s still quite a deal of coal to be moved in the immediate vicinity,” he said.
“That will be occurring as soon as the risk assessment and safe work method statements have been developed.”
Superintendent Garry O’Dell said the other five workers who were present in the area had managed to escape and had suffered no major injuries.
“The other miners attempted to render assistance to those men and unfortunately were unable to do so… they had to come out of the mine due to their own safety as well,” he said.
The Department of Resources and Energy and the police are currently conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the fatal accident.
This was not the first accident to occur at the Austar mine. Back In 2000, when it was owned by another company, the mine caught fire and was closed.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Northern District President for Mining and Energy, Peter Jordan, said he was aware of the mine’s “chequered past” but that all the issues had been addressed since.
“There’s certainly been some faults here and there but my understanding is that that’s been addressed and the mine has continued to work in a reasonably safe manner,” Mr Jordan said.
Yancoal spokesman Reinhold Schmidt said the management was doing everything it could to help the victims’ families.
“We do not have any details of what caused the accident. Our focus at this time is on working with emergency services to manage the recovery of the two workers. Our thoughts are with the families, colleagues’ and friends of the two employees,” he said.
“It is really important for us [that] the safety and wellbeing of all our Austar colliery employees are maintained. We have been in contact with the families of the workers, offering them support. We’ve appointed a member of our team to work with these families.”