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Year’s First Mining Death in Johnson County

Officials from the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing are investigating an underground mine accident that killed one miner in Johnson County.The accident happened Friday morning at the Czar mine operated by Matrix Energy LLC, located in Bear Water Branch. The miner, 54-year-old Robert L. Cook of Martin County, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Johnson County coroner.This is the first mine fatality in Kentucky in 2011.Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesperson Dick Brown says the mine has been closed while investigators review the accident to see if any regulations were violated by the company or miners in the area.“We know that mining is a dangerous and difficult way to make a living in Kentucky, but we do everything we can to work with the mining companies and the miners to ensure their safety and we will in this case of course look into see what may have caused this,” he says.Preliminary reports indicate the miner was pinned by a piece of mining equipment and died instantly. State investigators will interview witnesses and examine the machinery to determine the cause of the accident. “This is sad and tragic, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this miner,” says Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters. “We must continue our efforts as regulators and companies to ensure a safe working environment for the thousands of men and women who work above and below ground each day to provide this energy resource to the commonwealth.”