Injured Grosvenor miner Wayne Sellars speaks at the Queensland coal mining board of inquiry.
Injured Grosvenor miner Wayne Sellars speaks at the Queensland coal mining board of inquiry.

Injured miner reveals horrific details of Grosvenor blast

"F*** this, I'm not dying here".

These words reverberated in Wayne Sellars' mind immediately after he was engulfed in a blue flame for a "split second" during a horrific blast at Anglo American's Grosvenor mine on May 6 2020.

In a statement to the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry, which the Daily Mercury has obtained, Mr Sellars described the moment of impact that changed his life forever when he was caught up in the blast with four other workers.

The Airlie Beach resident in his submission also stated he was aware of a number of methane exceedances on the longwall before the blast that left himself and four other men with horrific burns injuries.

Mr Sellars said he experienced two pressure waves within 10 to 15 seconds of each other before the blast.

"As the second pressure wave occurred, I heard a clap like a rock being dropped from a height onto another rock," he said in his submission.

"Almost instantly, I saw blue flame, which engulfed me for what must have been a split second but felt, at the time, like an eternity.

"I tucked myself up as much as I could, closed my eyes and held my breath. I remember thinking to myself, 'This is it. What's on the other side?'. I then thought, 'F*ck this, I'm not dying here'.

"Then it stopped. There were no more flames."

The entry to Grosvenor Mine, near Moranbah. Picture: Daryl Wright
The entry to Grosvenor Mine, near Moranbah. Picture: Daryl Wright

Mr Sellars recalled seeing "pitch black" after the flame stopped, and hearing another injured worker screaming in pain.

"I remember worrying that there would be another explosion before we got out of the mine," he said in his submission.

Mr Sellars said there were a number of methane exceedances on the longwall before the serious incident.

"We were informed about the exceedances at the start of tour meetings and at toolbox talks," he said.

"On each occasion, we were told about what controls had been put in place to deal with the exceedances.

"We were not informed of any failures at the mine that were considered to have continued to the exceedances.

"We knew there were many exceedances during longwall 104. Us workers regularly spoke between ourselves about the amount of gas in the longwall."

In the lead up to May 6 2020, Mr Sellars recalled there was methane coming up through the floor, which he described as a "constant bubbling out of the floor along the longwall face for about two thirds of the face".

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

More stories:  

'We were punished if someone injured themselves': Miner

Workers' concerns about Grosvenor sometimes ignored: Miner

Fear of speaking out on mine safety an industry-wide issue

Higher production push at Grosvenor months before blast

Inspectorate under fire for failure to share safety records

He said there were many cavities and areas of bad roof in longwall 104.

"The mine would use carbofill to plug the bottom of a cavity in the roof, rather than filling the cavity to pressure," Mr Sellars said.

"This meant that there would still be a cavity above the carbofill plug. I was personally involved in carbofill operations on several occasions."

Mr Sellars, who had been working at Grosvenor mine for the past five years, was treated at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in the burns ward until he was released on July 10, 2020.

Two weeks later, he was re-admitted to hospital for blood clots in his lungs.

Mr Sellars has undergone 10 surgeries to date and will need another three to seven surgeries this year.

He said he wore various burns suits and masks for up to 23 hours a day and will do so for the next two years at least.

Mr Sellars will give evidence to the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry during the afternoon on Wednesday, April 7.

Subscriber benefits:

How to activate your free Courier-Mail subscription

How to get Daily Mercury news straight to your inbox

Your dose of Harry Bruce cartoons


Woman charged with high-range drink-driving at mining town

Premium Content Woman charged with high-range drink-driving at mining town

The woman allegedly drove while more than three times the legal limit.

CQ agricultural shows receive cash boost

Premium Content CQ agricultural shows receive cash boost

110 events across the country were approved for $710,818 in supplementary funding...

See Queensland’s natural monuments through new lens

Premium Content See Queensland’s natural monuments through new lens

A new research project aims to change the way tourism operators and visitors see...