Two workers have been killed and two injured after a wall collapsed in a Hunter Valley coal mine on April 15. At the time emergency officials arrived at the deep underground longwall mine Austar, located in New South Wales, the miners were still trapped, according to officials.
Authorities have been told eight miners were working about 500 meters below the surface when the wall fell, leaving the two men stuck underground. Six ambulances, police and the NSW Fire and Rescue came to the scene to assist the miners; a 49-year-old man from Cessnock and a 35-year-old man from Metford. However, neither man survived.
The mine, run by Yancoal Australia, which is an Australian-Chinese partnership, operates to a depth of up to 530 meters, with the coal seams 13,000 meters long and 220 meters wide.
Austar Coal Mine is located about six miles southwest of Cessnock in the Newcastle Coalfields.
This tragedy is not the first one at Austar. In 2004, the mine was crippled by a fire, forcing owner Gympie Gold to sell it to Yancoal, which re-opened the site in 2006. Since then, the site has used a mining technique known as a longwall top-coal caving, which Austar describes as the first system of its kind in Australia.
All mining production has ceased at the site pending further investigations. The history and age of the mine has left authorities to wonder about Austar's safety standards. It's important to note that accidents like this can often be prevented with equipment maintenance software and fatigue monitoring, which allow mining officials to gauge how much wear and tear equipment has endured, and whether or not it is still safe to operate.
According to the Austar Coal website, the underground produces semi-hard coking coal. The mine employs 409 staff members.