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

MINE TRAGEDY: Middlemount miner was a Mackay father

THE identity of the mine worker who died at the Middlemount Coal mine in Central Queensland on Wednesday afternoon has been confirmed.

David Routledge, a South Mackay resident and father, was tragically killed after a high wall collapsed on the excavator he was inside.

Middlemount Coal CEO Gerrie Jordaan said Mr Routledge was "a highly valued member of our team and will be greatly missed by his workmates".

"Middlemount Coal is deeply saddened to confirm that digger operator and valued employee David John Routledge passed away yesterday afternoon following a mine site incident," he said.

"David from South Mackay was an experienced operator who had worked at Middlemount Mine for over three years.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to David's family, friends and colleagues.

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

"We are in contact with his family and have offered our full support to help them deal with their loss.

"Their welfare is our highest priority and we ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.

"The details of the incident are now the subject of a full investigation to which Middlemount Coal will offer its full cooperation.

"Operations at Middlemount Mine have been suspended until further notice."

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson extended his thoughts and prayers to Mr Routledge's family, describing the incident as a "disaster".

"A death in the workplace just affects so many people - It's just horrible to have to bear that as a community," Cr Williamson said.

"All we can say is that we would hope that the mining sector, following another tragedy, takes a very close at safety in the workplaces.

"I had 10 years supplying the resource sector, it places a lot of credibility on being safe but obviously now with the third death in six months, it's also a sector that has to look closely at risk management."

Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said the tragedy had reached deep into the hearts of all residents in the coal-producing region.

"Whether you're a relative, friend or neighbour, there would be very few in Middlemount who do not have a connection to the mining sector," she said.

"On behalf of council and the community, I extend our deepest condolences to David's family.

"Whilst the circumstances of this tragedy will be subject to investigation by the mine operator and authorities, right now our focus is on supporting the close-knit Middlemount community in its grief."  

Earlier today, the CFMEU said the worker's shocking death must serve as a "wake-up call" for improving safety and practices.

"On behalf of the whole union, we extend our sincere condolences to the worker's family, friends and co-workers. The worker was not a member of the union," CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said.

"It must be a wake-up call to the industry to look closely at the safety culture and practices across our coal mines."

It marks the third death this year in a Queensland coal mine.

Union safety inspectors are on site and will conduct a thorough, independent investigation.