Fatality at Chain Valley

PRODUCTION at the Chain Valley Mine in New South Wales has stopped as investigations continue into the death of Peter Jones, 52, after a rib collapse at the mine on Friday afternoon.
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The Chain Valley mining area in red.

Lou Caruana

The death of the Whitebridge coal miner brings the number of Hunter coal miners who have lost their lives on the job since 2009 to three.

Jones, who was a check inspector at the mine and renowned for safety consciousness, was trapped under a large block of coal that fell from the rib while he was operating a remote control at the mine.

Rescue teams managed to get him to the surface in about 40 minutes but he died before he could reach the nearby Wyong Hospital.

Jones, a father of one, was reportedly a popular miner at Chain Valley and mentored younger miners on safety issues.

“On behalf of the New South Wales government, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased miner,” NSW minister for resources and energy Chris Hartcher said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been touched by this regretful and tragic accident.

“The incident is currently being investigated by the Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services Mine Investigations Unit and I await the outcome of their full investigation.

“The New South Wales government will continue to work with the industry and unions to prevent mining accidents in New South Wales, for the benefit of the thousands of men and women who work in and around our mines every day."

The Chain Valley Mine was sold by Peabody Energy to LD Operations in 2009, and is owned by LDO subsidiary Lake Coal.

It is believed the incident will be investigated by the Mine Investigations Unit.

An environmental assessment is being prepared to consolidate and replace existing approvals for the Chain Valley Coal Mine.

The project will enable the continuation of underground mining operations at the Chain Valley Coal Mine within the area covered by existing mining leases, extending the life of the mine by 21 years to 2030.

The application also includes a proposal to increase production from 0.75 million tonnes per year to 1.2Mtpa from the Great Northern and Fassifern Seams.

The fatality is the second blow in a week for the LD Operations subsidiary, which learned on June 1 that Western Australian premier Colin Barnett would oppose the development of its Vasse coal project in Margaret River.