Published: 18 Dec 2020
The first report of the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry has raised some important issues about systemic safety issues in coal mining, however full details of what led to the horror explosion at Grosvenor mine in May are still to emerge, the Miners Union said today.
Further hearings will be held in 2021, looking at the particular circumstances around the explosion. The Board of Inquiry’s final report will cover those events, as well as looking at the role of the casual labour work model.
The interim report identified shortcomings in the identification and management of methane exceedances at a number of Glencore and Anglo mines and found that High Potential Incidents were not treated seriously enough.
It also raised the importance of enforcing safety regulations through a well-resourced Mines Inspectorate, which is compromised by a lack of qualified inspectors.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said the report showed mines may have been complying with the letter of the law on critical safety issues like gas management - but they were not taking a proactive approach.
“They are doing the minimum required and that’s not good enough,” said Mr Smyth.
“Evidence given at hearings showed that mining companies make production and profits their top priority and that comes at the expense of fudging on best practice safety standards.”
Mr Smyth said coal mineworkers were looking forward to the release of the Board’s final report next year, which would cover the events surrounding the May’s shock explosion.
“This was a highly traumatic event and our members at Grosvenor want the truth to come out.
“It’s important that this important enquiry continues and that it leaves no stone unturned regarding what happened leading up to May 6.
“We are also looking forward to the Board’s findings on the common work practice of employing underground coal miners as casuals – as the whole Grosvenor production workforce was employed.
“It is our experience that casuals are reluctant to raise concerns for fear of losing their jobs.
“The Union will continue to support our members and fight to improve safety.”