A miner has died and another two required hospital treatment following a roof collapse at the Sojitz Gregory Crinum Coal Mine to the north of Emerald in central Queensland. The incident happened at about 11.00 am on Tuesday 14 September 2021, when part of the mine roof collapsed onto a conveyor drift (area through which a conveyer belt runs, carrying coal to the surface). Two men were trapped beneath the fallen debris, one of whom, a 60-year-old miner who has not been named, dying as a consequence, while the other, a 25-year-old, was freed after several hours and airlifted to the Rockhampton Base Hospital with injuries to the legs and pelvis. A third worker was also taken to hospital following a 'medical episode' but discharged later the same day.
The Gregory Crinum Mine site was acquired by Sojitz, a Japanese mining group, in 2018, and recommenced work in May 2021. The mine had previously been mothballed in 2007, in part due to concerns about the stability of the roof, which was considered to be too unstable for the type of room and pillar mining used at the site; this is a system in which a horizontal bed of the target mineral (usually coal) is removed by the excavation of a series of tunnels arranged like streets on a city block, leaving behind blocks of unmined material to support the ceiling of the tunnels.
This is the first mining fatality in Queensland since January 2020, but the ninth since July 2018, with a spate of incidents in 2018-19 having sparked a clampdown on mine safety by authorities in Queensland. Sojitz had reportedly been advertising for inexperienced workers who would be trained at the Gregory Crinum Mine site, due to a shortage of experienced mineworkers in Queensland. The incident is currently under investigation by the Queensland Police Service.
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