Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt was killed at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, 2020.
Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt was killed at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, 2020.

’Heartache is unbearable’: Killed mine worker identified

HEARTS across Central Queensland's mining communities were breaking yesterday as news had come from Blackwater mine, Curragh Coal Mine, that a 33-year-old man had lost his life.

Donald Rabbitt of Goondiwindi was reportedly changing the tyre of a low-loader when a piece of the machinery crushed him just after 4pm on Sunday. It is understood the married man was just about to finish his shift when the incident occurred.

Paramedics and police were called to the Cooroorah Rd mine, with officers staying on scene until around 7.40pm.

That was when the tragic news broke - the man, understood to be a tyre fitter for Thiess, had died.

Social media erupted with condolences and heartache, messages pouring onto Facebook, offering thoughts and prayers for the family, friends and workmates of the fallen miner.

His grandmother Gail Stevens shared her heartache on Facebook.

"Today I have lost a beautiful grandson and the heartache is unbearable. Please dear god do not take anymore of my loved ones," she wrote.

CFMEU safety inspectors arrived on the scene and conducted a thorough and independent investigation.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are also investigating the death - the first mining tragedy for 2020 and the eighth in 18 months.

Police confirmed the man's family had been notified.

Operations at the mine came to a halt after the death as investigations continued yesterday.

However, still in the early stages, CFMEU industry safety and health representative Stephen Watts said it investigators could be at the mine for weeks.

"To find the nature and cause, it could take years to do the report," he said.

Mr Watts said the miner was working in the maintenance department at the time of the incident.

"It might be time to look at a few factors; probably beefing up the Inspectorate, look at the industrial manslaughter laws that are coming in and we've got to look at mine site business models," he said.

"People that don't have permanent jobs can be dismissed with an hour's notice.

"With that hanging over your head, why would you want to be the one complaining about safety?"

Saddened by the news, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane gave his condolences on behalf of the council to the man's family.

"On behalf of the industry, QRC offers condolences to the worker's family, friends and workmates," Mr Macfarlane said.

"The resources industry is tight-knit, so this tragedy will deeply affect everyone who works in and with the resources community.

"Safety is always the resources sector's number one priority. The industry is working with the Queensland Government and unions to ensure an ongoing safety focus to maximise safety across the sector."