An independent mine safety board of inquiry will conduct public hearings, call witnesses and make broad inquiries into a coalmine explosion on 6 May that led to five miners sustaining serious injuries. A retired judge or Queens Counsel will head the board of inquiry, which will also make recommendations relating to the underground gas explosion that occurred at the Anglo-American Grosvenor coalmine outside Moranbah, Queensland.
“Last week’s underground gas explosion is something the industry has not experienced for more than quarter of a century,” Dr Anthony Lynham, the state’s Mines Minister, said. “An underground gas explosion in a coalmine is simply unacceptable in the 21st century. As serious as it was, it could have been far worse, as every underground coalminer and their families know.”
The last Queensland mine gas explosion was Moura No 2 in 1994, when 11 men failed to return to the surface. A Mining Warden’s Inquiry — forerunner of boards of inquiry — made a number of recommendations, including around self-rescue apparatus for miners, training for managers and requirements for safety and health management systems. “The inquiries that followed the underground gas explosions at Moura changed mine safety in Queensland. This latest board of inquiry is an opportunity to continue this government’s sweeping reforms to protect mine workers,” Dr Lynham said.
The inquiry reports following the gas explosions at Moura recommended safety measures that are still used to protect mineworkers. Dr Lynham said the latest board of inquiry is an opportunity to continue the Queensland Government’s reforms to protect mine workers. “Queensland has the world’s toughest mine safety and health laws, more inspectors on the ground than in a decade, and industrial manslaughter laws before the parliament,” Dr Lynham said.
A shortlist of board of inquiry members is being considered and terms of reference refined, with Dr Lynham to announce the board membership and detailed terms of reference by the end of May, and the inquiry to commence immediately. “The board will conduct its inquiry so as not to prejudice any potential future prosecutions,” Dr Lynham said. “It will provide an interim report before the election, which I will table in parliament, and a final report, also to be tabled.”
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