QLD wraps up safety crisis talks following Baralaba incident

Baralaba North mine. Image: Baralaba Coal Company

The Queensland Government and resources industry have held an urgent meeting on the mining sector’s safety performance following a string of fatal incidents this year.

Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham met the unions, workers and the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) yesterday as matter of urgency.

The crisis talks took place after a Golding contractor died at the Baralaba North coal mine in the Bowen Basin over the weekend.

Six hours later, a Glencore worker was critically injured at the Collinsville mine.

The Queensland Government confirmed at the conclusion of the meeting that it launched two expert independent reviews, one of which is aimed at examining all fatal incidents in Queensland mines and quarries since 2000.

This review was meant to only include coal mine incidents up to the end of last year. It has now been broadened to include mineral mine and quarry incidents, including fatal tragedies this year.

“This review will look at why mine workers have died over the past 20 years, how industry can improve and how the mines inspectorate can work better,” Lynham said.

Separately, the University of Queensland is reviewing the state’s mining health and safety legislation to ensure it is relevant to current and emerging mine practice and technology.

“The reviews received the full support of industry representatives at (yesterday) afternoon’s meeting,” Lynham said.

“They will both be completed by the end of this year and will be tabled in parliament.”

Union group CFMEU Mining and Energy has also called a 24-hour halt at all Queensland coal mines as a show of respect, and for “serious reflections” to occur.

“A suspension of production would be opportunity for the state government, mining companies and workers to reset the industry’s safety culture and practices,” CFMEU stated.

Golding, a subsidiary of NRW Holdings, has shut the Baralaba North mine until Wednesday July 10, depending on the progress of the investigation with a team from the Queensland Mines Inspectorate.

The company understands that its operator was caught between the excavator and the safety rails of the stairs. He sustained injuries as the stairs descended.

It remains unclear as to how this sequence of events occurred, according to Golding in a media statement.

“We are committed to working with the authorities in every way possible in their investigation process,” Golding chief executive Geoff Caton said.

“I’d like to reiterate our deepest condolences to (the deceased)’s family, friends and work mates during this very difficult time.”