Staged re-entry to mine begins just days after blast
UPDATE May 10, 10am: A STAGED re-entry to Grosvenor Mine has commenced, just four days after the explosion that injured five men.
Anglo American's Metallurgical Coal CEO Tyler Mitchelson said the five workers were continuing to receive treatment at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
Mr Mitchelson said finding out what went wrong on Wednesday was the priority.
"Our focus remains on the care of our injured colleagues and their families, and finding out what went wrong," he said.
"Earlier today, a staged re-entry to the Grosvenor mine commenced, after our risk assessment received approval from the Mines Inspectorate.
"The staged re-entry ensures that all safety controls are in place including reconnecting the gas monitoring equipment, restoring power to the underground and pumping excess water from the mine.
"Re-entry to the mine will enable investigations into the incident to commence and we will ensure our investigation draws on the best possible expert advice.
"We will not resume mining until we are satisfied that we know what happened and how we can avoid it happening again."
Mr Mitchelson acknowledged his team for their tireless work under the challenging circumstances.
He said the company had sent home coal workers on full pay and would continue to approach things day by day as the investigation continued.
UPDATE May 9, 4pm: THE conditions of five workers injured in Wednesday's Grosvenor Mine explosion remains unchanged.
A Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital spokeswoman confirmed four men - two 51 year olds and two aged 43 and 45 - were still in a critical condition this afternoon.
The fifth man, a 44 year old, was still considered to be in a "good" condition.
A Go Fund Me page created two days ago for the workers has smashed its $20,000 target, reaching an astonishing $135,483 today.
The fundraiser, titled Grosvenor LW Boys, has been shared more than 8,000 times on social media.
AS four miners were fighting for their lives in a Brisbane hospital late yesterday, it was confirmed one of the injured men was from Moranbah.
The other four men are understood to be from southeast Queensland - two from the Sunshine Coast and two from the Brisbane area.
The men - two 51 year olds, and two aged 43 and 45 - were last night clinging to life in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, with critical burns covering their torsos and inundating their airways.
The fifth injured worker, aged 44, was in a "good condition".
A forensic investigator has now joined the team of mines inspectors investigating the horrific explosion which injured the workers at Grosvenor Mine.
Anglo American's metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the Grosvenor recovery team was working through the risk assessment and planning for safe re-entry of the mine.
"When it's safe, we first need to reconnect power underground to be able to recommence the pumping of excess water from the mine," Mr Mitchelson said.
"Our focus right now is supporting our injured colleagues and their families, and the work required to commence the investigation.
"We will not resume mining until we are satisfied that we know exactly what happened and how we can avoid it happening again."
The company advised its coal mine workers rostered to work this week that they could return home on full pay.
Only those essential to the recovery work remain on site.
In Moranbah yesterday, Burdekin MP Dale Last said Mines Minister Anthony Lynham should "fall on his sword and resign" if he was unable to keep Queensland mine sites safe.
His call came after a horror run of mine deaths and incidents over the past 21 months.
The Opposition mines spokesman said Dr Lynham had also "categorically" ruled out calls for a parliamentary inquiry into mine safety, as serious safety concerns continued to plague the industry.
"Clearly there are still significant issues around safety at our mine sites and we need to get to the bottom of it," Mr Last said.
"If this minister is not up to the job of ensuring that our mine sites are safe for workers, then he should fall on his sword and resign.
"We are hearing that there were safety issues being reported at this mine site over the past month."
On Thursday, Dr Lynham said a board of inquiry into the Grosvenor Mine tragedy was on the table, with the possibility of further strengthening already rigid safety laws in the resources sector.
Responding to Mr Last's criticism, he said his priority was "to get answers for our mine workers, for their families, their workmates and their communities - how did this happen, and how can it be prevented from happening again?"
"I am taking advice about establishing a board of inquiry, but in the interim the inspectors continue their independent investigation.
"The ongoing toll on our mine workers is totally unacceptable, and right now my energies are focused on mine workers, not politics.
"My thoughts are with their families, friends and workmates."
Mr Last said the investigation into this week's explosion should be given the "highest priority" and any changes which come from it should be rolled out as soon as possible.
"Eight deaths in 21 months clearly shows we have a significant problem with safety in mines," the Burdekin MP said.
"What (Dr Lynham) is doing is not meeting the expectations of these communities and the workers."
The Queensland Resources Council has thrown its support behind calls for the industry-wide investigation.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said any examination of the mine explosion would offer a clearer understanding of what happened and if any additional measures were needed in Queensland mines.
"The (Mines) minister has discussed the option of a board of inquiry with me. I understand this inquiry would be in addition to the mines inspectorate investigation already under way," Mr Macfarlane said. "QRC will co-operate fully with all and any inquiries.
"Our immediate thoughts are with the five mine workers, their families and workmates, and we send our thanks to first responders and health workers who have assisted those critically injured workers."