Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright
Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright

Grosvenor Mine inquiry board member steps down

AN INDUSTRIAL safety expert has made the decision to step down from an inquiry into last month's explosion at Grosvenor Mine, following a request from the mine's owner.

Professor Andrew Hopkins has accepted the request from Anglo coal mines by removing himself from the board, which is investigating last month's blast and other various high potential incidents.

In a statement, the board said Prof Hopkins made the decision late last week to recuse himself to address "any potential perceived bias arising from statements he made prior to his appointment".

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The board's chairman Terry Martin said lawyers for Anglo coal mines, the owner of Grosvenor Mine, requested that he recuse himself from continuing to sit as a member of the board.

Mr Martin said the request was made in light of statements made by Prof Hopkins prior to his appointment on the board.

"To remove any perception of bias, Professor Hopkins acceded to the request," he said. 

The Daily Mercury understands the statements in question made by Prof Hopkins occurred during an interview with the Australian Workplace Health and Safety Awards, which was recorded before the board was announced.

During the interview, Professor Hopkins said there were "striking" similarities between the Grosvenor explosion and the accident at Moura mine.

"It seems that there were consistently high levels of methane gas being recorded at that mine - explosive levels of methane gas," he said.

"This was apparently one of the main causes of this accident.

"Concerns were raised about this beforehand but nothing effective was done."

Prof Hopkins then went on to say: "I do hope whatever inquiry there is into this Moranbah accident, (it) will identify those similarities with previous accidents in Australia and elsewhere."

Andrew Clough will replace Professor Hopkins immediately.

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Mr Clough has extensive experience in the mining sector, including as vice president health safety and environment for Peabody Australia, general manager at the Broadmeadow Mine, project manager for the Ellensfield Project, general manager of the North Goonyella Mine and general manager Metropolitan Colliery.

Mr Clough was also previously Chief Inspector of Mines for Queensland from 2013 to 2015.

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