AMSJ » Central Qld coal mine suspended due to trapped worker

Central Qld coal mine suspended due to trapped worker

Coppabella mine truck
Coppabella mine truck

A multinational resources producer paused operations after an employee was unable to free himself in Queensland’s Isaac region.

Peabody Energy temporarily suspended its Moorvale Coal Mine in Coppabella (153km southwest of Mackay) because a dozer overturned and the operator became trapped.

“[We received] a message via messenger that unconfirmed reports of Moorvale and Coppabella have been shut down. There has been a dozer rollover [and the] site is closed,” the Word in the Pit (WITP) Mining group said on Facebook.

The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) arrived at the scene at 12:30am on 28 January 2023. Three rescue crews took eight hours to access and open the cabin because it was buried under rubble.

They communicated with the worker via handheld radio for the first hour after which the line “dropped out”.

“As the hours dragged on most people expected it to be a recovery job more than a save,” QAS senior operations supervisor Ross Vickers said according to News Limited.

“At that point in time we were not sure if he was still alive or whether there was an electrical issue with the dozer, which failed to supply power to the electrical system. The biggest concern was the limited supply of breathable air.”

The employee safely exited at about 8:30am before being transported to Moranbah Hospital in a stable condition.

“The dozer operator involved … has since been released from hospital and now recovering at home. A WITP Mining anonymous member would like to acknowledge how amazing the emergency response team responded whilst attending to the incident. It has been reported that there were two dozers running at the time of the incident,” the WITP Mining group said on Facebook.

Meanwhile, a different worker was rescued from another dozer rollover at Anglo American’s Moranbah North Coal Mine, 211km southwest of Mackay.

The accident occurred at about 7:30am on January 30. The operator was trapped until mid-morning and widely reported to be uninjured.

Resources Safety and Health Queensland recorded 10 rollover incidents across the Sunshine State between December 2021 and December 2022. Three incidents occurred at surface mines during July, October and November 2022. Six similar incidents occurred between December 2021 and June 2022 at nine surface mines.

The following key issues were identified at the time:

  • hazard identification was absent or ineffective
  • incorrect methods were used to ascend/descend slopes
  • defective equipment was permitted to continue operating
  • supervisors did not ensure operator training was complete
  • machine operators failed to adequately assess the area before starting work
  • supervisory monitoring or risk control application by operators was either absent or ineffective
  • application of risk controls by supervisor and operator was absent or ineffective at managing identified hazards.

Investigators earlier recommended that all site senior executives should regularly audit the:

  • shift task allocation against the training system and take corrective action when deficiencies are detected
  • system for recording and correcting equipment defects, and take corrective action when deficiencies are found
  • effectiveness of supervisors’ hazard identification and risk control skills, and take corrective action when deficiencies are detected.

Shift supervisors should:

  • confirm operators have identified all workplace hazards
  • confirm proposed risk controls to manage hazards will control the hazard risk
  • review stockpiles to confirm valve locations are easily and readily identifiable for operators
  • monitor risk control effectiveness during shifts and take corrective action when deficiencies are detected
  • require that ground implements (blades and rippers) are kept as low to the ground as possible during operation, particularly when operating on uneven surfaces.

Click here to read the full safety notice.

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