Illinois coal mining deaths increased sharply in the past year from one in 2012 to four in 2013.
Illinois Coal Association President Phil Gonet says the state Department of Natural Resources' Office of Mines and Minerals along with mine operators are using training and new mining technology to improve safety.
“Safety is one of the prime concerns of our coal operators,” he says. “One fatality is one too many and unfortunately this year we had four. We’re hoping for a safer year in 2014.”
Gonet says one miner died after being pinned by a continuous mining machine. He says many mines are beginning to use new technology called a proximity device that detects when the machinery gets too close to a worker or mine wall.
In the past decade 13 miners have died in Illinois.