Miner Lost Foot in Accident; Probe Continues

Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette | Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 12:40 pm A Bull Mountain Mine worker had one foot severed by equipment he was trying to fix Thursday morning at the underground coal mine near Roundup. The miner, Jameson Ward, 27, of Billings, who was flown to Billings by helicopter, continues to be listed in fair condition at Billings Clinic, Julie Burton, hospital spokeswoman, said Friday. Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, said Friday that Ward lost one foot in the accident and the other foot was severely damaged. Ward, a longwall maintenance foreman, was repairing a chain conveyor on the longwall mining machine when the accident occurred at 6:10 a.m. John DeMichiei, president of Signal Peak Energy, which operates the mine, said the chain conveyor had become hung up by a piece of metal. Ward and other miners were working to clear the obstruction when tension in the chain conveyor released, catching Ward when the equipment moved, he said. The chain conveyor is part of the transport system that removes coal mined from the longwall face. An MSHA inspector arrived at the mine and was underground Thursday night, Louviere said. The agency issued a closure notice for the equipment and will decide when to lift the order based on progress in the accident investigation and a determination that it is safe for the mine to resume production, she said. MSHA did not know how long the investigation might take. DeMichiei also declined to estimate when the longwall mining will resume, although he said other activities are continuing. “There’s no rush to get back in there,” he said.

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