CFMEU members battle month-long fire at North Goonyella

Published: 3 Oct 2018

North Goonyella mineworkers have been stood down and access to the mine sealed as an underground fire at the Bowen Basin mine continues to burn.

Entry to the mine has been prohibited due to the fire since 30 August and workers have been stood down and underground access sealed after the fire deteriorated late last week.

While most workers are stood down, CFMEU members are at the front line of fighting the fire as part of the Queensland Mine Rescue Service GAG jet engine team and the specialist contractor team spraying portals with chemical resin to prevent ventilation fuelling the fire.

CFMEU Safety and Heath Inspector Steve Woods said efforts to manage the event were extensive and the fire was under better control than last week, when black smoke was billowing from the mine.

Mine operators Peabody had done the right thing for worker safety by evacuating the mine and setting strict exclusion zones to avoid the potential tragedy of workers being trapped by fire or explosion, Steve said.

“Lessons from past tragedies like Moura have been learned.

“The most important thing is that people are safe, but of course members are anxious about the circumstances at the mine and the future of their jobs.

“Every entry point to the mine is sealed and we don’t know when it will reopen.”

Work to manage and monitor the fire is continuing, including sealing the longwall and setting up monitoring to better understand what is happening underground.

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Grahame Kelly said North Goonyella members have the support of the whole Union, wishing for a safe resolution to the fire and timely return to work.