An aerial image of Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright
An aerial image of Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright

27 serious Grosvenor incidents months before explosion

THERE were 27 high potential incidents at Grosvenor Mine in the 11 months before the May 6 explosion which injured five workers.

The figure was revealed in the board of inquiry terms of reference into recent Queensland coal mining incidents, tabled by Mines Minister Anthony Lynham in Queensland Parliament today.

It noted there were 27 high potential incidents at Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine involving exceedances of methane in and around the longwall on various dates between July 1 2019 and May 5 2020 - the day before the explosion.

The document noted a further 11 high potential incidents occurred at Anglo Coal's Grasstree Mine, near Middlemount, involving exceedances of methane in and around the longwall on various dates between July 1 2019 and May 5 2020.

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It says another incident of this nature occurred at Anglo Coal's Moranbah North mine and Oaky Creek's Oaky North Mine during the same period.

The entry to Grosvenor Mine, near Moranbah. Picture: Daryl Wright
The entry to Grosvenor Mine, near Moranbah. Picture: Daryl Wright

A 'high potential incident' refers to an incident which could have caused a serious adverse effect on safety and health. 

An Anglo American spokeswoman said methane was managed at Grosvenor Mine through a number of measures.

She said this included the draining of gas before and during mining as well as the installation of extensive ventilation infrastructure.  

"We exceed the regulatory requirements at our mines by having a higher number of methane sensors and have additional controls than what is specified in the regulations," the spokeswoman said.

"Many of the High Potential Incidents reported to the Mines Inspectorate were from methane exceedances picked up by these additional sensors.

"Anglo American continues to proactively learn from all incidents, and we will cooperate fully in the inquiry as an opportunity to continue to improve the management of methane and safety in underground mining."

Anglo American's metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the company's own investigation into the Grosvenor methane ignition incident was under way.

"The safety of our people is what is most important," he said.

"We want answers as to why an ignition of methane occurred at Grosvenor mine and we understand that everyone else does too."

The board of inquiry will review the Grosvenor blast tragedy and the 40 other high potential incidents detailed in the terms of reference.

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The board will be able to conduct public hearings, call witnesses and make broad inquiries, findings and recommendations relating to the incident.

The board members will be retired District Court Judge Terry Martin SC, as chair, and Professor Andrew Hopkins AO from the Australian National University, an expert in coal mine health and safety.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham: Daryl Wright
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham: Daryl Wright

Dr Lynham said they had been tasked to determine the nature and cause of each of the incidents and make findings about them.

"Further, the Board of Inquiry is to make recommendations for improving safety and health practices and procedures to mitigate against the risk of these incidents happening again," he said.

"Worker safety is fundamental to who we are as a Labor Government.

"I look forward to this inquiry helping us bring home every Queensland worker to their friends and family at the end of their working day."

A report is due by November 30.



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