“The windblast event was horrific. I was on the boot end and had my back to the goaf - all of a sudden air was rushing past, it felt like I was being hit in the back of the head with a shovel continuously. It just picked me up and threw me down the belt road and had no control of where I was going. Death was a MAJOR concern” – so goes Jamie Lonsdale ‘s recollections on a windblast incident at West Wallsend.
Jamie started out at the BHP apprentice training centre as a fitter before going to Stockton Borehole in 1982. From their he moved to Teralba in 1988 where he spent a year before going to his current longwall – West Wallsend.
In his spare time Jamie likes taking his two boys and two girls fishing as well as his mates - “game fishing or game to fish with me?”
ILN:What is your earliest mining memory?
JL: On my first week at the pit when I came from the BHP apprentice training centre I was up in “O” panel with a tradesman when I noticed a crack opening up above us – the next day it fell in on the miner.
ILN: What made you choose mining as a career?
JL: Fourth generation miner, and second family in at John Darling in 1912.
ILN: What was your favourite job in a coal mine?
JL: Watching and helping get the coal out.
ILN: What was your least favourite job?
JL: Getting into small spaces at the back of chocks on repair work.
ILN: Who, or what, has most influenced your mining career?
JL: Many characters over my time in the industry, however my current deputy John Tyczynski, I hold a lot of respect for.
ILN: What do you consider your best mining achievement?
JL: Going home alive and being accepted into Mines Rescue.
ILN: What do you see as being the greatest mining development during your career?
JL: The mono rail being added to the longwall and 3D longwall monitoring at Westy (West Wallsend)
ILN: Do you hold any mining records?
JL: Nil, only the ones with my workmates where we get record tonnages out.
ILN: Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
JL: Not doing my deputies or undermanagers ticket.
ILN: What was your most embarrassing moment in a coal mine?
JL: Being nicknamed the “COW”
ILN: What was your scariest time in a coal mine?
JL: Windblast on LW 27 at Westy and being buried when I was a third-year apprentice at Stockton Borehole.
ILN: What is your worst memory of coal mining?
JL: My involvement with getting first aid to Col Jones and getting to the paramedics (he cut his own arm off to get out of an over turned Eimco).
ILN: Do you think that the day of the fully automated remotely operated face is near?
I think it will be 10 years away yet, but it will always need fitters as it will always break down.
ILN: What major improvements would you like to see on longwall operations?
JL: Less dust!