Mines Minister calls for inquiry into North Goonyella

Minister calls North Goonyella investigation

The Mackay Daily Mercury has reported this morning that the Queensland Government Minister, responsible for Mining Safety, Dr Anthony Lynham has advised he is assembling an expert team ahead of an investigation into the underground mine fire which ignited late last month at the North Goonyella coal mine.

Minister Lynham, in his first public statement on the North Goonyella incident, said the Chief Inspector of Coal Mines had advised that a senior inspector and an experienced investigating officer would lead the investigation.

Minister Lynham said “The investigation will commence once the situation is safely brought under control, this is to ensure attention is not diverted from the regulator’s priority: the safety of workers.”

“The mines inspectorate and Peabody Energy have briefed me regularly about the changing situation at the mine, in particular measures to ensure the safety of workers.”

According to Dr Lynham, Mines inspectors have been on site at North Goonyella from last month since the incident began. The investigation into the nature and cause of the incident will thoroughly consider all relevant sources of evidence and may engage independent expertise.

Some in the Queensland mining industry, say that an investigation conducted by the Department in respect of its’ own, and Peabody’s actions is amount to Terry Lewis conducting the Fitzgerald Inquiry. The Department and the Minister have already established to the Queensland public that they lack objectivity in respect of any safety related inquiry into Peabody’s action.

An industry source told AMSJ that “The fact remains that a number of the Queensland Government’s Mines Inspectorate staff and a CFMEU Safety & Health Representative (who all signed off on the Peabody plan of attack for the mine fire) were ex-Peabody employees, just doesn’t pass the pub test.”

The range of complications associated with assessing compliance of the mine prior to the event in accordance with the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017, will no doubt be protracted given that some evidence may not be available for a period of time (assuming that the fire is effectively controlled over the forthcoming weeks).

Peabody has also advised AMSJ that it will conduct its’ own investigation into the incident and make its’ findings publicly available. Following Peabody’s announcement to market on September 28th some 28 days after staff were withdrawn from the mine, the Peabody share price plummeted. Read our full opinion of the events here.

Opposition spokesperson Dale Last said last week “it’s now a wait-and-see game to see if Peabody “can get the situation under control”, and said it was difficult to determine how successful measures to extinguish the blaze could be.

Image: @DrAnthonyLynham Twitter. “Minister Lynham dressed for odd socks day to support Mental Illness”

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