On 6 May 2020, a serious incident occurred at Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine in Central Queensland which left five people with significant injuries. Gas ignition is suspected to be behind the reported explosion at the underground coal mine.
A fleet of RACQ Lifeflight Rescue Air Ambulance jets were airborne within 90 minutes of being tasked by Queensland Health. Three injured patients were airlifted and arrived at Moranbah Airport shortly after.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, the Hon. Dr Anthony Lynham, said his thoughts and prayers are with the injured workers and their workmates.
“They are in the best of hands with Queensland’s world-class medical teams in our public hospitals,” he said.
The Mines Minister confirmed that all other workers have been accounted for and operations at the mine have ceased.
Anglo American’s CEO of its Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said the company’s focus is on supporting the injured workers and their families.
“We will work with our regulators and other stakeholders to ensure this type of incident never happens again.”
“I would like to sincerely thank the first responders, mines rescue teams and all of the medical personnel involved in helping the injured people,” Mr Mitchelson said.
According to a Queensland Mines Inspectorate (QMI) spokesperson, QMI inspectors are on-site at the mine and have commenced an investigation into the event.
“Emergency services personnel have informed workers’ families of the incident and our thoughts are with the injured workers and their families at this time,” the spokesperson said.
They detailed that entry points to the underground mine will remain closed until gas monitoring of the underground environment indicates the risk to personnel re-entering is at an acceptable level.
“Two inspectors are currently on-site and their investigation will focus on the nature and cause of the incident. This will include but not limited to inspection of equipment, analysis of data and documents and interviews with relevant personnel.”
“QMI’s aim is zero serious harm to workers and to this end we conduct thorough and rigorous investigations to prevent future incidents and where necessary take the appropriate compliance and enforcement actions,” the QMI spokesperson commented.
“This investigation into the suspected gas ignition event at Grosvenor Coal Mine is expected to take a number of months and is subject to the complexity of the incident and available information.”
Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) safety inspectors are also attending the site and will “undertake a thorough, independent investigation into causes of what appears to be an ignition of gas on the longwall face.”
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District President, Stephen Smyth, said the Union will do everything possible to support a return to safe conditions at the mine and get to the bottom of what has occurred.
“Explosions are the worst nightmare for underground coal miners; we will make sure no stone is left unturned,” he commented.