Middlemount Coal mine in Central Queensland.
Middlemount Coal mine in Central Queensland. Melanie Whiting

Equipment recovered after major mine tragedy

THERE has been a major update in the Middlemount Mine tragedy which claimed the life of South Mackay's David Routledge, 55, in June.

The excavator Mr Routledge was inside during a fatal high wall collapse on June 26 was recovered this week at the Middlemount Coal Mine site.

A mines safety alert issued by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy in July revealed fallen material engulfed the excavator Mr Routledge was operating, which partially crushed the excavator cabin.

 

David Routledge with his grandchildren.
David Routledge with his grandchildren.

The safety alert stated the 55-year-old miner was fatally injured after an adjacent pit wall about 40 metres high "suddenly failed".

Mr Routledge was trapped in the excavator for almost 12 hours, according to the CFMEU.

Normal mining operations were approved to recommence outside the incident site on July 22.

In an update on financial performance on Thursday, Peabody Energy said it expected to take a financial hit partially due to the fatality at the Middlemount joint venture mine.

In a statement, Peabody said third quarter earnings for its share of the joint venture would be $30-35 million lower than second quarter earnings as there was "a significant delay in resuming and then ramping up production at ... Middlemount joint venture mine in Queensland following a highwall failure and fatality in late June".

Reduced pricing on seaborne met and thermal coal, as well as demand-driven deferrals on seaborne thermal and met coal shipments were the other reasons given for the predicted drop in earnings.

Middlemount Coal chief executive Gerrie Jordaan said the incident site within the southern terrace pit had been quarantined by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate until such time as the high wall had been made safe for the removal of the excavator.

"Middlemount Coal worked with the Queensland Mines Inspectorate and geotechnical engineers to complete risk assessments, geotechnical modelling and installation of protective mesh to secure the high wall and make the area safe," Mr Jordaan said.

 

As a mark of respect to killed Mackay miner David Routledge, mining industry workers have changed their Facebook profile photos to the above image.
As a mark of respect to killed Mackay miner David Routledge, mining industry workers changed their Facebook profile photos to the above image. Facebook

"The (inspectorate) released the quarantined area of the southern terrace pit on August 23 to allow for excavator to be safely dismantled and removed."

The excavator was removed from the site on Wednesday.

The Queensland Mines Inspectorate's investigation is ongoing.

Mr Jordaan said Middlemount Coal would continue to cooperate fully with the process.