Anglo confirms Grosvenor staff will not appear at inquiry
Grosvenor mine staff will not give evidence at an inquiry into last year’s underground blast disaster after time ran out to implement legislative changes to avoid mine workers incriminating themselves.
In a communication sent out to workers, sighted by the Daily Mercury, Anglo American said none of its Grosvenor mine representatives had been called to appear at the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry.
“This is because there are no protections in place to manage the risk of self-incrimination – testimony being used against them in other legal proceedings,” the document stated.
“Accordingly, the board is unable to require the giving of evidence, and has expressly stated ‘there can be no criticism of the position taken by these witnesses (exercising privilege). Privilege against the risk of self-incrimination is a fundamental right each of us has’.”
In September, the board‘s interim report called for legislative changes to avoid mine workers incriminating themselves when they gave evidence.
The second tranche of hearings for the inquiry starts Tuesday, March 9 at the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Chairperson and board member Terry Martin said these hearings would explore issues around the mine, including the Grosvenor blast and the 27 methane exceedances that occurred between July 1 2019 and May 5 2020.
“The witnesses currently listed for this tranche of evidence are mining inspectors and industry experts,” Mr Martin said.
“Evidence relating to the continuous inertisation of goafs will also be considered during these hearings.”
Anglo metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the mining giant had explored every aspect of risk management in its underground mines, as well as automation and remote operation.
“As the largest underground metallurgical coal miner in Australia, we will continue to leverage our scale to find new ways of addressing safety risks, drawing on international best practice and technology development, to ensure our systems and processes extend beyond current industry best-practice,” Mr Mitchelson said.
“We have proactively responded to learnings from the Grosvenor incident and the board of inquiry and already have a significant body of work underway across our operations.
“We are committed to working with industry to ensure Queensland’s mining industry is safe, sustainable and productive and will continue to co-operate fully with the Board of Inquiry.”
The Mines Inspectorate also has a comprehensive investigation underway into the Grosvenor mine blast.
To date, Anglo has provided about 91,000 documents to Resources Safety and Health Queensland.
The board visited both Grosvenor and Moranbah North mines in October 2020.