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Killed miner a 'knockabout bloke'

AAP logoAAP 22/10/2016 Evan Schwarten

A 62-year-old man killed in a mine collapse in outback Queensland has been described as a kind-hearted, knockabout bloke.

Sidney Cuddy, 62, was killed when a trench at a shallow-cut opal mine collapsed at Opalton, near Winton, on Saturday.

Police and firefighters had to dig with their hands for three hours to get through two metres of rubble retrieve his body because it was impossible to get equipment onto the remote site.

Winton Shire mayor Butch Lenton, who went to school with Mr Cuddy, said the Longreach-based man was well-liked.

"He was a knockabout and kind-hearted bloke, who has just been out there trying his luck," he told AAP.

Investigators from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines are examining the cause of the mine collapse and police will prepare a report for the coroner.

But Mr Lenton said accidents were rare at the Opalton fields, which is one of the largest of its kind in Queensland and famous for the quality of its opals.

"There hasn't been too many accidents out in the opal fields but unfortunately something has gone wrong here and Sid's lost his life, the poor bugger."

Opalton is popular with individual miners and part-time fossickers, many of whom converge on the area during the cooler winter months.

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