Coal mining inquiry must be broadened and strengthened after Moranbah North evacuation

Published: 26 Feb 2021

The Miners Union is calling on the Queensland Government to make urgent changes to the conduct of the ongoing Queensland Coal Board of Inquiry in light of events at Moranbah North coal mine last weekend.

High gas and heating within the mine’s long wall section in the underground coal mine led to the withdrawal of the workforce last Saturday. 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, he raised concerns about similarities between events at Moranbah North and those Grosvenor mine last May, when an underground explosion seriously damaged five workers. Both mines are operated by Anglo American.

The Union is calling on the following steps to be urgently taken:

  • Terms of reference of the Queensland Coal Board of Inquiry broadened to include scrutiny of Moranbah North;
  • 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;
  • Change to the Act to boost protections against reprisal and potential prosecution for workers who give evidence to the Inquiry.

Mr 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,” said Mr Smyth. “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.”