An accident at the Linwood mine in Buffalo, Iowa, has killed a mine truck operator. The victim was identified as Ronald Trich Jr., 52, of Rock Island, Illinois. He was found on January 25, 2017, buried under rock in a remote part of the mine where no mining operations were being conducted. The mine roof and walls in the area where the collapse occurred were thought to be stable. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is conducting an investigation, and expects to issue its report in two to six months.
Jonathan Wilmshurst, the president of Linwood Mining and Minerals Corporation, insisted that the mine is safe, and MSHA permitted mining operations to continue in other parts of the mine. But Mr. Wilmshurst sent the workers home after the accident. He was quoted in an article in the Quad-City Times as saying “We didn’t think it was a good idea to expect the guys to work after what we’ve been through.”
The accident underscores the dangers and unpredictability of underground mining. The victim’s family is entitled to claim death benefits from the worker’s compensation system. But if the investigation reveals any OSHA violation or negligence on the part of a third-party, the family could seek additional compensation.
Limestone has been mined on both sides of the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities area since the 1800s. The Linwood mine began operations in 1944 as an open pit quarry but as demand increased, mining activities moved underground. Employing about 100 people, the mine produces more than 2 million tons of high-quality limestone each year, making it one of the largest limestone mining operations in the country.