Five workers have been airlifted to Brisbane after suffering serious burns in an underground explosion at Grosvenor coal mine near Moranbah.
Union sources say an ignition of gas on the longwall face was believed to have caused the explosion, which occurred about 3.15pm yesterday.
The injured men were taken to Moranbah Hospital with significant burns to the upper torso and airways, the Queensland Ambulance Service said.
Four were described as critically ill and one in a serious condition when a fleet of three RACQ Lifeflight Rescue Air Ambulance jets and two RFDS planes transported them for treatment at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital last night.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said he expected a thorough independent investigation by the mine safety regulator.
“My primary concern is obviously for the injured workers and their families following today’s underground incident at Anglo American’s Grosvenor coal mine near Moranbah,” he said last night.
“My thoughts and prayers are with them and their workmates.”
He said two mines inspectors were on site last night, and two more were due to join them today (Thursday, May 7) including the Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines
Union safety inspectors are attending the site and will undertake a thorough investigation into the causes, the CFMEU says.
‘Worst nightmare’ underground
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said the immediate priority was taking care of affected workers.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured workers and their families, and all the workers at Grosvenor affected by today’s events,” he said.
“The union will do everything possible to support a return to safe conditions at the mine and get to the bottom of what has occurred today.
“Explosions are the worst nightmare for underground coal miners; we will make sure no stone is left unturned.”
Anglo American said this morning that operations at the site remained suspended as the company worked with relevant authorities to ensure the it was safe to return underground to commence investigations.
Chief executive officer of Anglo American’s metallurgical coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said: “Our focus right now is on supporting our injured colleagues and their families, and our team is doing everything they can to provide support.
“We are all devastated and we don’t yet understand what caused this incident. Once it is safe to return underground, we will commence an expert technical investigation to ensure we understand what has happened.
“We will then work with our regulators and other stakeholders to ensure this type of incident never happens again.
“I would like to sincerely thank the first responders, mines rescue teams and all of the medical personnel involved in helping the injured people.”