Exposed: Mine’s shocking past before near-fatal explosion

 

 

THE mining giant at the middle of a gas explosion that almost killed five workers was warned years ago of a potential incident, after its equipment was labelled "unsatisfactory" by inspectors.

Leaked documents obtained by The Australian detail how the Grosvenor mine in Moranbah was riddled with large "uncontrollable" pockets of methane for multiple years under company Anglo American.

Injured workers from an explosion at Grosvenor coal mine at Moranbah arriving in Brisbane. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
Injured workers from an explosion at Grosvenor coal mine at Moranbah arriving in Brisbane. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP

These revelations sparked multiple investigations by inspectors, with a warning made to the company in October 2017 about its methane monitors might not be picking up the true concentration of methane, and that highly explosive levels could be present within the tunnels.

This was then followed with another warning from inspectors seven months later in May 2018 that the companies continued methane high-­potential incidents within the Grosvenor were "unsatisfactory" and must be minimised or "preferably eliminated".

Inspectors also revealed at the time that the Grosvenor site was ­responsible for 60 per cent of all methane exceedances in Queensland's nine underground mines.

However, it appears these warnings fell on deaf ears, with Anglo American recording at least another 32 methane exceedances between that May 2018 inspection and last month's blast, which resulted in five workers fighting for life after suffering serious burns to their skin, lungs and throats.

 

 

Four of the five miners remain in hospital but have been moved from intensive care to a burns unit.

The fifth worker, Turi Wiki, was released from hospital late last month.

An Anglo-American spokeswoman told The Australian many of the high-methane incidents were picked up by the mine's extra sensors and were "a demonstration of the strong reporting culture and compliance within our operations".

Meanwhile questions have been raised as to why government regulator Queensland Mines Inspectorate did not take legal action to order the site to suspend mining because of the methane incidents.

A QMI spokesperson did confirm that the regulator did launch an audit into industry-wide methane issues in 2018, finding many operations failed to report.

Originally published as Exposed: Mine's shocking past before near-fatal explosion