Yesterday a team from the Grosvenor Mine commenced a re-entry process to the underground workings of the mine, following approval from Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ). However, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says the re-entry has ignored the concerns of the workforce.
Longwall mining activities halted at Grosvenor in May 2020, following a methane ignition incident underground.
CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said the re-entry was a positive step towards the safe restart of mining at Grosvenor.
“Following a substantive program of work that included permanently sealing the impacted area of the mine with five large, concrete seals and installing additional gas monitoring infrastructure, we completed a highly rigorous risk assessment process ahead of re-entry, drawing on both internal and external experts,” Mr Mitchelson said.
“We are taking a staged approach to re-entry, with the team initially completing safety and compliance inspections, and restoring power and gas monitoring to ensure the safety and integrity of the mine.”
“I would like to acknowledge the very thorough and detailed approach taken by RSHQ in working with us over the past few months to ensure the permanent sealing process and our risk assessment for mine re-entry reflects leading industry practice,” he said.
“We are continuing to capture and action relevant learnings as they become available, including through the Board of Inquiry.”
“Last year we started a significant body of safety improvement work, with an emphasis on expediting technology solutions including remote operations , and these solutions will be embedded at Grosvenor prior to restarting longwall mining in the second half of this year.”
However, CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President, Stephen Smyth, said the company has not been transparent about plans for staged re-entry.
“The workforce has said loud and clear that they want their union safety inspectors kept informed about re-entry plans,” Mr Smyth said.
He said that workers feel strongly that the mine’s management team, following the two recent events at the mine, should be held accountable for their approach.
“Yet our Industry Safety and Health Representatives were not given any notice or information about the re-entry. This has left workers fuming,” Mr Smyth said.
Workers also reportedly raised concerns about a one-on-one interview process that occurred ahead of the re-entry, where they were quizzed about their mental health and ability to work safely underground.
“No-one questions the need for workers to be mental and emotionally healthy when they return underground at Grosvenor,” said Mr Smyth.
“They have been through a very traumatic experience.”
“But Anglo has had the best part of a year to assess and support the mental health needs of its workforce at Grosvenor. To put these labour hire workers on the spot, making them fear they’ll be targeted or lose their job, creates unnecessary stress and lack of trust.”
“We all want Grosvenor mine to re-open safely. Again, I’m urging the Anglo leadership team at Grosvenor to listen to the reasonable concerns of its workforce and build trust, not breach it.”
 Further detail is available here.