An emergency simulation was conducted at Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine in 2018. Pictured is a participant at a mine rescue competition. Picture: Minerals Council of Australia
An emergency simulation was conducted at Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine in 2018. Pictured is a participant at a mine rescue competition. Picture: Minerals Council of Australia

Mine held blast exercise two years before explosion

THE mine at the centre of the Moranbah explosion held an exercise to practise its emergency response to a similar situation almost two years ago.

A report on the simulation highlights the eerie coincidences between the practice event and Wednesday afternoon's actual explosion.

On July 13, 2018, representatives of several organisations, including 33 assessors, took part in the exercise at Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine near Moranbah.

It was the same site as this week's mine explosion disaster, which left four workers fighting for their lives and another injured.

The simulation scenario was based on the Upper Big Branch explosion of 2010 in the US, which occurred when the shearer ignited a pocket of gas in the tailgate of the underground mine.

The coal dust explosion resulted in the deaths of 29 coal mine workers at Upper Big Branch.

An aerial image of Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright
An aerial image of Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright

However, the exercise conducted at Grosvenor Mine in 2018 involved only five deaths at the tailgate.

The scenario aimed to test a number of objectives, including, the ability of mine workers to self-escape, the recovery of personnel and bodies, mine fatality protocols and social media response.

The report noted the 33 assessors had made a number of major conclusions after the exercise.

The assessors found the gathering of mine workers "did not operate smoothly", the recently updated Grosvenor emergency response system had not been tested in unison and miners did not understand the deployment requirements for the Queensland Mines Rescue Service in emergency situations.

The Moranbah Miners Memorial. Picture: Daryl Wright
The Moranbah Miners Memorial. Picture: Daryl Wright

However, all mine workers were found to be well trained in donning breathing devices, non-verbal communication was used on the longwall to relay important information to the surface and there was an ideal location at the site for intelligence gathering in an emergency situation.

A number of recommendations were made after the exercise, including the need for workers to undergo more training with breathing equipment, the need for a standardised emergency management across all mines, a review of the site's mine emergency response system and an industry-wide data management system for operational management and emergency response.

An Anglo American spokeswoman said the level-1 exercise in 2018 assisted in "fine tuning the skills of our coal mine workers, including the Mines Rescue Team, in the event of an emergency to ensure the quick and safe extraction of personnel from the mine and the management skills and processes required to co-ordinate a response".

"The outcomes of these types of exercises are considered in detail and the learnings are incorporated into our emergency response plans, safety systems and practices," she said.



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