Central coast mine closed after worker killed

A coal miner has been killed in a fatal underground accident on the New South Wales central coast.

Peter Jones, 52, died when he became trapped under a large block of coal that had fallen from the mine wall at about 3pm on Friday.

He was brought to the surface by a mine rescue team, but died in the ambulance on the way to Wyong hospital.

Jones was an experienced coal miner who only had three years to go before he could retire.

He was also the “check inspector” at the Chain Valley mine where he was killed and was remembered as a “mentor” to younger and less experienced colleagues.

‘‘He was an extremely safety-conscious worker and a mentor to the younger blokes at Chain Valley,’’ United Mine Workers Union district secretary Grahame Kelly told the ABC.

Jones’s grieving family said the popular and talented man will be sorely missed in the community, and he was “everyone’s friend” according to his 24-year-old daughter Bonnie.

‘‘He was a great fisherman, he played grade soccer into his 40s, he fixed cars, he cut everyone’s hair, he surfed, he did everything,’’ son Kyle, 26, said.

‘‘He loved the job but he hated it too and he only had three more years to go.’’

Jones’ widow Sue, remembered her husband’s long career in the mining industry.

She said he was originally a panelbeater apprentice, but by the time she married him at 21, he was already working underground at Redhead colliery.

The man nicknamed “Spider” was also a talented bowler, and at the Burwood Bowling Club, members mourned the loss of last year’s club champion.

Union district president Peter Jordan told the Newcastle Herald Jones was the third Hunter mineworker to die on the job since 2009.

The mine is now closed while investigators examine the cause of the accident, including local mine geology and the bolts that were drilled into the mine wall to strengthen them.

‘‘You have to ask how such a large chunk of coal can fall out of the rib of a mine like that,’’ Jordan said.

A spokesman for the mine’s owner, LakeCoal Pty Ltd, said on Friday the company was ‘‘deeply saddened by this loss’’ and would work with investigators and experts to identify how the tragedy occurred and prevent similar incidents in the future.

Calls to the mine’s owner, LD Operations, went unanswered this morning.

Image: Killed worker Peter Jones; The Newcastle Herald
 

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