Miners lost on mining disasters have been remembered in the memorial. Photo: Daryl Wright
Miners lost on mining disasters have been remembered in the memorial. Photo: Daryl Wright

Reforms fall short as industry mourns fallen miners

MINE safety reforms have not gone far enough, retiring Mines Minister Anthony Lynham announced, as the state mourned the death of two miners.

In a solemn Miners Memorial Day service, Dr Lynham said the loss of Brad Duxbury and Donald Rabbitt, and the serious injuries suffered by five men caught in the Grosvenor Mine blast, was evidence "the quest for a safe workplace never ends".

"Mine workers have free compulsory lung health checks through their careers," Dr Lynham said.

"They have a better safety net if they're affected by lung dust disease all the way to their retirement.

"And industrial manslaughter is now an offence that carries a significant jail term.

"But it still isn't enough because this year two more miners have passed.

"It isn't enough because five mine workers were injured in a serious incident in an explosion at Grosvenor mine."

Dr Lynham said miners, incident survivors and their families and friends carried the weight of every mine accident with them, particularly on the 99th anniversary of the Mount Mulligan Mine disaster, which killed 75 miners.

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources Anthony Lynham spoke at the Ipswich Miners Memorial Day service. Picture: Dan Peled
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources Anthony Lynham spoke at the Ipswich Miners Memorial Day service. Picture: Dan Peled

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Dr Lynam said the annual service, which was livestreamed from Ipswich on Saturday, was a "sobering reminder as to why safety must come first".

"In our grief we must gather strength," Dr Lynham said.

"Strength and resolve to support each other, as we do, and strength to fight and press on to ensure that these tragedies do not happen again."

Dr Lynham said many of the accidents and near misses were preventable, and asked why the mining death toll climbed every year.

"We hear times and time again that mining is a hazardous industry."

"But we have to ask why, why does mining have to be a hazardous industry?

"I witness the tears of complacency at every miners memorial service."

Inside Anglo American's Grosvenor Coal Mine, near Moranbah, a day after a major explosion which injured five miners. Picture: Youtube
Inside Anglo American's Grosvenor Coal Mine, near Moranbah, a day after a major explosion which injured five miners. Picture: Youtube

CFMEU representative Glenn Power suggested an industry culture, which put production over safety, was why Queensland continued to suffer deaths in mining.

"We hear so many slogans and gestures regarding safety which seem to roll freely off the tongue of so many, but don't seem to have any practical application because in reality production supersedes any slogan or gesture in the mining industry," Mr Power said

Mr Power said miners should be able to stand and voice their safety concerns, without fear of reprisal.

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Mine Safety and Health Commissioner Kate du Preez said the Grosvenor Mine blast forced the industry to take stock and renew its commitment to safety.

"One of the most concerning findings from these initiatives was the number of incidents which involved identified hazards when inadequate or non-existent controls were in place," Ms du Preez said.

She called for more action to be taken to learn from every death, injury, near miss and hazard.

"A senseless tragedy remains forever tragic, but it depends on us whether it remains forever senseless".

Donald Rabbitt was a 33-year-old miner killed while working at Blackwater's Curragh coal mine. He was reportedly working on a float, which transports machinery, when it crushed him.
Donald Rabbitt was a 33-year-old miner killed while working at Blackwater's Curragh coal mine. He was reportedly working on a float, which transports machinery, when it crushed him.

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A TIMELINE OF TRAGEDY:

July 29 2018: Adam Malone, 25, was fatally injured at Jacks Quarry when the articulated dump truck he was operating hit an embankment and turned over on a haul road.

November 15 2018: Connor-Shaye Campbell Milne, 21, was fatally injured at Fairfield Quarry when he was entangled in the tail pulley of a conveyor.

December 31, 2018: Allan Houston, 49, was fatally injured when his bulldozer overturned at BMA's Saraji Open Cut Coal Mine near Moranbah.

February 20, 2019: Bradley Hardwick, 48, died when two pieces of machinery collided underground at Anglo American's Moranbah North Mine.

June 26 2019: David Routledge, 55, was crushed to death at Middlemount Coal Mine when a wall collapsed on to his excavator.

Brad Duxbury was killed at Carborough Downs mine site on November 25, 2019.
Brad Duxbury was killed at Carborough Downs mine site on November 25, 2019.

July 7 2019: Jack Gerdes, 27, was killed at Baralaba North coalmine when he accidentally engaged the retractable staircase on a Komatsu PC4000 excavator, becoming crushed between the staircase's handrails and the excavator's body.

November 25 2019: Brad Duxbury, 57, died when coal fell from a longwall face at Carborough Downs Coal Mine.

January 12 2020: Donald Rabbitt, 33, was at Blackwater's Curragh coal mine reportedly working on a float, which transports machinery, when it crushed him.