The Queensland Government will investigate what caused an underground explosion at Anglo American’s Grosvenor coal mine in central Queensland last week.
Queensland’s Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said that an underground gas explosion in a coal mine was “simply unacceptable in the 21st century.”
“Last week’s underground gas explosion is something the industry has not experienced for more than quarter of a century,” he added.
The state government will form an independent board of inquiry that would be able to contact witnesses and undertake an investigation relating to the accident.
It will be headed by a retired judge or Queens Counsel, with board membership to be announced by the end of May. The board will then commence the inquiry immediately.
According to the Queensland Government, the last mine gas explosion to occur in the state was Moura No 2 in 1994, when 11 men failed to return to the surface.
“The inquiries that followed the underground gas explosions at Moura changed mine safety in Queensland,” Lynham said.
“This latest board of inquiry is an opportunity to continue this government’s sweeping reforms to protect mine workers.”
Anglo American stated it would cooperate fully in all investigations in the Grosvenor methane ignition accident.
Company chief executive of metallurgical coal Tyler Mitchelson added: “We want answers as to why an ignition of methane occurred at Grosvenor mine and we understand that everyone else does too.
“We have already commenced our own technical review into the incident with industry experts, including in the areas of methane and ventilation management and forensic fire analysis.
“We will not recommence mining at Grosvenor until we know what happened and how we can prevent it happening again.”
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) stated it would also cooperate with the board of inquiry into the accident.
“No one should pre-empt the findings of the inquiry or the mines inspectorate investigation already under way,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.
“Everyone should continue to pray for the five injured workers, their families and workmates and thank those first responders and hospital workers caring for the injured miners.”
Anglo American has re-entered the Grosvenor mine to investigate into the accident.
The Grosvenor mine is a longwall metallurgical coal operation that went into production in 2016. It has a nameplate capacity of 7.5 million tonnes a year and a mine life in excess of 30 years.