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Bowen Basin coal bosses will not be pursued for dead worker

Fitzroy Australia Resources worker

Resources executives will face no further public scrutiny over an underground fatality.

Authorities recently dropped charges against four managers over an underground electrician who died at Fitzroy Australia Resources’ Carborough Downs Coal Mine in Coppabella, 163km southwest of Mackay.

Site senior executives Russell Uhr, Jeremy Futeran and another two managers will no longer need to answer for faulty equipment that allegedly failed to stop coal from falling and crushing Brad Duxbury to death on 25 November 2019. The 57-year-old victim had tried to repair machinery at the operation.

Only the mine operator Carborough Downs Coal pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in April 2024 for failing to uphold health and safety obligations, killing Duxbury and severely injuring colleague Cameron Best.

The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) condemned the prosecution’s decision at Mackay Industrial Magistrates Court.

“Unfortunately we have had a cosy deal between the prosecutor and the managers at Carborough Downs mine … [and,] as a result, these individuals have been let off the hook but it is individuals who make the decisions that lead to the death and serious injury of mine workers,” MEU Queensland president Mitch Hughes said in a public statement.

“How can mine workers have confidence in the system that is meant to protect them when they see their workmates killed and injured without consequence?”

However, Uhr earlier complained his employer would not consider him for senior management roles while the prosecution was “on foot”. He also had no access to performance scheme bonuses.

Futeran, who already left the company, similarly claimed he was “shunned” for new job opportunities and “effectively unemployable in Australia” after being charged with failing to discharge health and safety obligations causing death.

Uhr previously revealed one WorkSafe prosecutor incorrectly referred the tragedy to a magistrates court instead of the Industrial Court of Queensland. Since the magistrates court has no jurisdiction over the matter acting Magistrate Athol Kennedy dismissed all complaints, resulting in further delays.

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