Anglo American under investigation for mine safety breaches

Anglo American’s Queensland operations are under investigation following dangerous incidents including the sudden flooding of part of the Grasstree coal mine.

According to the Daily Mercury, three miners had to quickly climb onto heavy equipment to get out of the way of a one metre wall of water that broke into the underground coal mine.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) said that an on-site storage dam broke its banks, allowing 36 mega litres of water to gush into the mine near Middlemount in January.

It described the incident as a near fatal disaster and said they have some serious worries about Anglo’s safety record.

“We are watching all Anglo’s mines’, particularly Grasstree, operational safety procedures and policies,” the CFMEU’s health and safety rep Chris Gilbert told the Daily Mercury.

Gilbert went on to say that the three miners were lucky to escape with their lives.

In 2010, coal mine flooding in China killed around 50 miners.

The flooding at Grasstree came after two more serious accidents in late 2010.

One miner lost nearly all of his toes after his foot was crushed by a longwall shield on 15 November.

This was soon followed by a contractor being killed by an exploding tyre at Anglo American’s Foxleigh mine on 18 December.

In a similar incident, three miners at BMA’s Peak Downs coal mine were also injured when a truck tyre exploded.

The safety incidents at Anglo’s operations prompted the company to stop work at all facilities and offices on 28 Feb to see how the company’s safety levels could be lifted.

Named “Stop and Prop”, the safety sessions were designed by the miner to kick off a campaign to address its safety record at coal mines.

A spokesperson for the DEEDI said investigations into the flooding incident at Grasstree are still being carried out.

According to the Daily Mercury, an Anglo American spokesperson said that it had increased pumping capacity at Grasstree’s surface to stop potential floodwater and to manage current water levels.

Work has also begun on two underground water seal to isolate the working sections of the coal mine for water.

The Grasstree mine is located within the existing German Creek lease, in central Queensland.


View Operating Mines in Australia (2010) in a larger map

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.