Anglo American's Grosvenor mine. Picture: Tara Miko
Anglo American's Grosvenor mine. Picture: Tara Miko

Inspectorate let Grosvenor continue despite ‘near-misses’

A senior mine inspector has told an inquiry that it was considered acceptable to let the Grosvenor mine continue operating after a spate of near-misses because a plan was in place to address them.

The comment was made during Wednesday's hearing as part of the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry, which is exploring issues around Grosvenor mine, including the mine blast and other methane exceedances.

Resources Safety and Health Queensland regional mines inspector Stephen Smith was grilled about the inspectorate's response to 27 high potential incidents that occurred between July 1 2019 and May 5 2020 at Grosvenor mine.

Just a day after a HPI was recorded on May 5 2020, five men were horrifically burned during an underground fire at the mine. 

A high potential incident, also known as a HPI, refers to an incident which could have caused a serious adverse effect on safety and health.

Throughout Wednesday's hearing, the inquiry heard the mine continued to operate despite a spate of HPI notifications, but mine operator Anglo American had developed a plan and actions to address them.

Regional inspector of mines Stephen Smith during the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry.
Regional inspector of mines Stephen Smith during the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry.

Mr Smith said the mine did shut once for 36 hours after a spate of HPIs.

He said a HPI was "not acceptable" and mine sites should operate in a way to avoid them occurring.

Mr Smith confirmed that a HPI was considered a near-miss in the mining industry after board chair Terry Martin asked him to clarify this.

He also said HPIs were "unacceptable" from a regulatory perspective.

"I just get the impression, and I might be completely wrong, that (a HPI) is regarded as acceptable as long as the mine has got a plan to address the problem (and) it's acceptable to keep mining until that's implemented?" Mr Martin said.

"That's correct," Mr Smith responded.

An aerial image of Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright
An aerial image of Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright

More stories:

Inspectorate under fire for failure to share safety records

MINE INQUIRY: 'Methane exceedances not inevitable'

Plan to establish mine death unit in Queensland

The inquiry will hear from inspector of mines Geoff Nugent on Thursday.

Thursday's hearing will explore the May 6 Grosvenor mine blast, including the examination of the injured coal mine workers' clothing, a review of SIMTARS site mapping data and a review of Komatsu heat maps.

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