PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Miners Union is calling on the Queensland government to make urgent changes to the ongoing Queensland Coal Board of Inquiry in light of events at Moranbah North coal mine.
Miner Anglo American withdrew staff from the Moranbah North coal mine following changes in underground conditions, with the miner saying it had recorded “elevated levels of some gases in the goaf, which would indicate a coal heating issue and an overpressure event”.
The mine has restrictions in place and remains closed to workers going underground at this point.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth has written to Resources Minister Scott Stewart about his concerns about the state of health safety in the coal mining industry, in particular raising concerns about similarities between events at Moranbah North and those at Anglo American’s Grosvenor mine last May, where an underground explosion seriously injured five workers.
The union is calling for the terms of reference of the Queensland Coal Board of Inquiry to be broadened to include scrutiny of Moranbah North, a change to the Coal Mine Safety and Health Act so key witnesses can be compelled to give evidence to the inquiry regardless of self-incrimination privileges, and a change to the Act to boost protections against reprisal and potential prosecution for workers who give evidence to the inquiry.
Smyth said the inquiry was impeded because managerial and supervisory staff could avoid giving evidence due to self-incrimination protections, while workers were too scared to give evidence for fear of being targeted.
“The impact of the tragedy at the Grosvenor mine will continue to be felt by those impacted for years to come. Whilst prosecutions of those responsible must occur, it is critical that the issues impacting coal mine workers' safety and health are addressed in a fulsome manner before an even greater tragedy occurs,” Smyth said.
In addition to the incident at Grosvenor mine, the Board of Inquiry is also looking at 40 other high potential incidents involving methane exceedances between 1 July 2019 and 5 May 2020. Further, the Board of Inquiry is to make recommendations for improving safety and health practices and procedures to mitigate against the risk of similar incidents happening in the future.