Grosvenor mine explosion impact still being felt 12 months on

In the late afternoon of May 6, 2020, emergency services raced to the Grosvenor mine near Moranbah, where an explosion had occurred underground.

Those in the immediate area of the blast were badly burned and one of the the men describing the experience as “like standing in a blowtorch”.

Wayne Sellars suffered burns to 70 percent of his body and needed dialysis after his kidneys failed.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) representative Steve Smyth said the incident had deeply affected workers.

“There is still ongoing trauma and pain as a result,” he said.

“I believe the men are still getting treatment and trauma counselling.

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Anglo American approved to re-enter Grosvenor coal mine

Mining company Anglo American says it has been granted the approvals to re-enter the Grosvenor coal mine, almost a year after an explosion seriously injured five workers.

The methane explosion occurred on May 6, 2020, near the tailgate of Longwall 104 in the underground mine.

It has been closed since the explosion.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the company said it had commenced the re-entry process after it had received the approvals from Resources Safety and Health Queensland.

Anglo American’s metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the company was taking a staged approach to re-opening.

“Following a substantive program of work that included permanently sealing the impacted area of the mine with five large, concrete seals and installing additional gas monitoring infrastructure, we completed a highly rigorous risk assessment process ahead of re-entry, drawing on both internal and external experts,” he said.

“We are taking a staged approach to re-entry, with the team initially completing safety and compliance inspections, and restoring power and gas monitoring to ensure the safety and integrity of the mine.

“I would like to acknowledge the very thorough and detailed approach taken by RSHQ in working with us over the past few months to ensure the permanent sealing process and our risk assessment for mine re-entry reflects leading industry practice.”

A spokesperson for Resources Safety and Health Queensland says mines inspectors will inspect the mine this week as the re-entry process begins.

“The staged re-entry of the mine … follows Grosvenor Mine demonstrating to the inspectorate it has addressed the directive, which prevented re-entry to the mine,” the spokesperson said. 

“A restricted re-entry can now be undertaken at an acceptable level of risk.”

The spokesperson said re-entry was anticipated to continue over the weekend and into next week, with five inspectors involved in the process.

The approvals come as the Queensland Coal Mine Board of Inquiry, which was set up in the aftermath of the explosion, has adjourned to consider its final report.

During its second round of hearings this year, the inquiry heard there were 14 reported near misses, known as high potential incidents, on Longwall 104 in the eight weeks leading up to the explosion, as well as a number of others at other longwalls in the mine.

Earlier this month the inquiry heard from Wayne Sellars, who was injured in the explosion and said it “was like standing in a blow torch”.

“It was the last thing I expected to happen,” Mr Sellars told the inquiry.

Mr Sellars said he suffered serious burns to 70 per cent of his body, as well as kidney failure for which he had to receive dialysis.

He told the inquiry he has received 10 rounds of surgery and has three more rounds of laser surgery scheduled for this year, as well as hand and ear reconstructions.

Mr Mitchelson said the company was “continuing to capture and action relevant learnings as they become available, including through the Board of Inquiry”.

“Last year we started a significant body of safety improvement work, with an emphasis on expediting technology solutions including remote operations, and these solutions will be embedded at Grosvenor prior to restarting longwall mining in the second half of this year,” he said.

“The safety of our workforce is our priority and we are continuing to engage closely with them and support all of our colleagues who were impacted by the incident last year.”

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Explosive levels of methane recorded at Grosvenor Mine in lead up to incident that seriously injured five

There were 14 reported “near misses” at the Grosvenor Mine in central Queensland in the eight weeks leading up to an explosion in 2020 which left five mine workers seriously injured, it has been revealed.

The Coal Mining Board of Inquiry has resumed hearings in Brisbane, with Resources Safety and Health Queensland Regional Inspector of Mines, Stephen Smith, giving evidence over two days.

The Board of Inquiry was set up after a methane explosion at Anglo American’s Grosvenor Mine near Moranbah on May 6, 2020, where five workers were seriously injured.

Across hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the board heard from Mr Smith about 14 high potential incidents (HPI) of methane exceedance, considered near misses in the industry, at longwall 104 where the explosion occurred.

The inquiry chair, Terry Martin SC, explained “HPIs, from the evidence in the first tranche, in my understanding, are regarded as a near miss”.

Four further methane incidents, not reported to the Resources Safety and Health Queensland, were also mentioned.

One incident on April 21, 2020 had a methane exceedance of 5.04 per cent, considered in the lower explosive limit of the gas.

The level in that incident remained about the 2.5 per cent limit for over 10 minutes.

“In the context of these HPIs, the mine had already indicated they had already taken action,” Mr Smith said.

He said these actions included ventilation and process changes.

Mr Smith was asked whether conditions over that eight-week period leading up to the explosion were unsafe, to which he replied “as a general statement I would say no”.

Anglo American barrister Saul Holt said it would be falling into a trap to link all HPIs together, as there were different causes for them.

Mr Holt told the inquiry the incident where the exceedance was 5.04 per cent was caused when a worker removed a hose from an air mover.

This week’s hearings were the first time the board had heard evidence relating to the Grosvenor incident, with last year’s hearings focussing on other incidents.

In his opening address for the second set of hearings on Tuesday, counsel assisting Jeff Hunter QC said an explosive mixture of air and methane was behind the Grosvenor blast, but there had to have been a source for the methane mixture to explode.

“So, the two fundamental questions are therefore: how did an explosive mixture of air and methane come to be on the longwall face at that time and what was the source of ignition?” he said.

Mr Hunter said the evidence pointed clearly towards coal-heating activity in the longwall 104 goaf — the part of the mine where coal had been worked away and the space filled with caved rock.

“This evidence was abundant after the May 6 accident, but there were also indicators that accelerated coal oxidation was occurring within the longwall goaf prior to May 6,” Mr Hunter said.

“That heating may have been occurring deep in the goaf and it also may have been occurring in the roof above or the goaf immediately behind the longwall shields.”

Mr Hunter said localised heating may have been induced by an exothermic reaction caused by the use of polyurethane resin, which was used to consolidate the longwall face and roof.

“Accordingly, a spontaneous combustion event may well be responsible for the ignition, and the presence of methane on the face may be explicable by its ubiquity in the tailgate at this particular mine, a substantial fall of strata into the goaf that caused a windblast or perhaps even an ignition deeper in the goaf,” he said.

Mr Hunter said when the explosion occurred, workers in other parts of the mine reported feeling two pressure waves “each with sufficient force to be capable of knocking workers off their feet”.

The hearings in Brisbane will continue for at least the next three weeks, with more Resources Safety and Health Queensland inspectors expected to give evidence, as well as representatives from Australian Forensic, Strata2 and QEC Global.

Part one of the inquiry’s report, which focussed on incidents at other mines including Oaky North, Moranbah North and Grasstree, was released in December and found salaries paid to officials within the Queensland Government’s independent mining inspectorate were “markedly inadequate”.

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Grosvenor Hotel transforms from Hotel to Providore


As an example of adjustment and transformation in these times Grosvenor Hotel in St Kilda is operating as a providore. With the pub and bistro forced to close in line with government rulings, its bottle shop, Grosvenor Cellars, has taken centre stage and become the new hub for customers. As well as selling alcohol, the bottle shop is adding four new streams to its business: Premium fresh meat cuts, cheaper than supermarkets and other gourmet offerings.

The Grosvenor has always been known as a meat specialist, serving up delicious meals in its bar and bistro. Now, it’s becoming a boutique butcher too, offering premium quality export grade cuts. As an associated company of Australian Meat Group, it has wholesale access to quality, grass fed, Gippsland farmed meat, and can pass this onto customers at cheaper prices than supermarkets.

Customers can choose from Black Angus porterhouse and scotch fillet steaks, premium mince, lamb chops, BBQ sausages, legs of lamb; chicken breast, thigh and legs; pork loin chops, whole pork shoulder and more. Fresh bread and gourmet staples Every morning, the Grosvenor’s woodfire pizza is used to bake small batches of fresh bread, which are available daily in the bottle shop.

Alongside the bread, customers can pick up gourmet grocery items like pasta, rice, cheeses and sauces, giving locals a chance to support independent businesses instead of going to the major supermarkets.

Cook-at-home meals are also a feature. To take the work out of shopping and cooking, the Grosvenor is also offering ready made meals prepared by hatted chef Simon Moss, which give customers everything they need to cook or reheat at home. Changing daily, they have so far included a home parma kit, which comes pre-packed with crumbed 2 schnitzel, cheese, ham and Napoli sauce; a heat-and-serve risotto range with a small batch of housemade vegie stock to finish the cooking off at home; and a par-baked pizza to give locals the chance to cook a classic Grosvenor pizza at home.

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The meals change frequently and can be ordered online or by phone and collected from the bottle shop at any time, delivery is available after 5pm.

Bar and bistro menu available as takeaway While the restaurant may be temporarily closed for the foreseeable future, customers can still enjoy the hotel’s full menu, again prepared by hatted chef, Simon Moss. Orders can be collected at the bottle shop, or home delivered. Include some wine with your meal, and orders over $100 are delivered free!

For Manager Frank Chilelli, the changes are big, but the essence of the Grosvenor remains the same. “We’ve always been about providing quality food and wine to our customers,” he said. “Now, we’re just doing it in a new way.” But it’s not just about looking after his customers. Part of the reason behind the changes were to keep his staff employed, many of whom are breadwinners for their families. “Our priorities are to keep the people we have employed, and keep morale up during these difficult times. I urge people to support local, and buy local as by doing this you are keeping people and their families in business and hopefully, the economy more buoyant. Consider where your money is going when you’re spending, because by supporting local businesses like ours, you’re also supporting the backbone of the Australian economy at a time we all need it the most.” 

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