An injured person from the gas ignition at Grosvenor coal mine in Moranbah pictured arriving at the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning.
An injured person from the gas ignition at Grosvenor coal mine in Moranbah pictured arriving at the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning.

Claims workers are being silenced a month after tragedy

WORKERS at the site of last month's underground explosion say they are facing constant pressure to stay quiet about safety concerns, a miners' union has claimed.

It comes as investigations into the Grosvenor Mine tragedy - which left five workers with serious burns - continue a month after the explosion.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said whatever the source of ignition, the risk of methane explosion was not controlled on the day of the incident.

"We know that workers have come under pressure not to speak up about their concerns," Mr Smyth said.

27 serious Grosvenor incidents months before explosion

"The 100 per cent casual or contractor work model at Grosvenor exacerbates workers' anxiety about speaking up, because they know they could be fired any time for any reason.

"And we know that workers are not confident in the way the mine is managed and changes will be needed."

An injured person from the Grosvenor coal mine incident at Moranbah pictured arriving at the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Brisbane on May 6. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
An injured person from the Grosvenor coal mine incident at Moranbah pictured arriving at the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Brisbane on May 6. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

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Anglo American has strongly rejected Mr Smyth's claims.

The company's metallurgical coal business chief executive, Tyler Mitchelson, said a team of internal and external technical experts in methane, ventilation, strata and forensic fire analysis were continuing to investigate the May 6 incident.

"The safety of our people is what is most important, and through our own expert investigation team and other inquiries under way, we know we will learn more to help us to improve the management of methane and safety in underground mining," Mr Mitchelson said.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth. Picture: Daryl Wright
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth. Picture: Daryl Wright

"As the largest underground coal miner in Queensland, we have invested significantly in technology to improve safety in our mines, including additional methane detection equipment, digitisation to improve underground communication and automation of equipment. We will continue to prioritise work in this area.

"Last month we advised our Grosvenor production crews that we are planning for them to undertake alternate duties until early July.

"We will not resume mining until we know it is safe to do so."

Mr Mitchelson said the company was continuing to work closely with One Key to support the injured workers and their families during this time.

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Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Tara Miko
Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Tara Miko

A Queensland Mines Inspectorate spokesman said its investigation was also ongoing.

"This matter is also subject to a Board of Inquiry established by the Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister on May 22," the spokesman said.

"As investigations are ongoing we are unable to provide further comment at this time."

Mr Smyth said the union was not concerned about the lack of findings a month on from the explosion.

"Investigations into mine safety incidents must be thorough and can take many months, so we are not concerned at the lack of findings at this early stage," he said.

"We know that workers at Grosvenor are traumatised after the experience, events underground were very frightening that day - an explosion is every underground miner's worst nightmare."