Anglo American responds to safety criticisms

Anglo American

The Grosvenor operation in Queensland. Image: Anglo American

Anglo American has defended its safety systems and practices at the Grosvenor coal mine in Queensland, saying they draw on international best practice despite an accident that injured five people in May.

Operations at the site have continued to remain suspended since the accident, with Anglo American reporting oxidation of coal and rising gas levels in the underground mine in June.

The Australian newspaper revealed that the coal mine recorded dangerous methane levels at least 98 times since 2016, up until the methane ignition injured the five workers.

There were also documents showing that Queensland’s mines inspectorate never suspended the site despite repeat visits to the site.

“As a global mining company with a vision of zero harm, Anglo American has extensive safety management systems and processes in place across all operations, which draw on international best practice,” an Anglo American spokeswoman said.

“Mine Record Entries (MREs), as published by The Australian newspaper, are reports that [were] issued by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate or union statutory officials (industry safety and health representatives) following mine site inspections. They are published at sites and made available to all coal mine workers. Anglo American comprehensively responds to all MREs, directives and High Potential Incidents (HPIs).”

Anglo American stated it had continued to improve its operations by deploying technology that improved mine safety, such as automated equipment.

“We will continue to prioritise work in this area, and we expect that emergent technological solutions will form part of our response to the incident,” the spokeswoman said.

The mines inspectorate issued 13 out of 2872 directives and substandard condition or practice notices between July 1 2018 and June 15 2020 to Grosvenor mine, Anglo American stated.

“Grosvenor Mine accounted for just 13 of these – less than 0.5 per cent. We comply with any directives that are provided following inspections at our mine,” the spokeswoman said.

“We are fully cooperating with the Queensland Government’s Board of Inquiry. It would be premature for anyone to preempt this process by speculating about the significance of information or incidents outside this inquiry and other investigations underway.

“Through our own expert investigation and other inquiries underway, we know we will learn more to help us to improve the management of methane and safety in underground mining.”

Anglo American stated it would share results for its own technical investigation of the Grosvenor accident with its workforce, along with implementing extra controls to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.

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