Aug 18, 2020

Inquiry delves gap in safety recording systems

Inquiry delves gap in safety recording systems

Anglo American’s Grasstree mine was promoted internally as having achieved zero High Potential Incidents in 2019, when the Department of Natural Resources and Mines documented 55 HPIs, an inquiry has heard.

The Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry has touched more than once on the fact that Anglo uses its own HPI system, in line with the company’s global operations.

This differs to the measures used by the Department, although Anglo operations would also make some records of those incidents that qualified under the DNRM system, the inquiry has heard.

Metallurgical coal business chief executive officer Tyler Mitchelson, giving evidence on Monday, said anything that would be an Anglo HPI would definitely also qualify as a departmental HPI, but not necessarily the other way around.

He was asked about Grosvenor recording 10 DNRME HPIs in July last year and whether that suggested that control had been lost over methane in the relevant longwall are of that mine.

“I wouldn’t say control over methane had been lost,” Mr Mithelson said.

“When we look at the entire package, the ventilation and the other controls that were in place, the goaf drainage needed to be addressed and our operating practices needed to be addressed.”

Deborah Holliday, one of the barristers appearing for Resources Safety and Health Queensland, questioned him about the internal company documentation highlighting zero HPIs at Grasstree mine last year.

At the same time the Department recorded 55 HPIs, including an incident when a front end loader rolled on its side.

“There’s a danger, though, isn’t there, by not including DNRME HPIs in considering safety performance of Anglo American mines, that there is not only a normalisation of HPIs but actually an ignoring of them?” Ms Holliday asked.

“There’s a perception of that risk, and my firm belief is that … the visibility of the departmental HPIs is there,” Mr Mitchelson said.

“As I mentioned, it does get – you know, every day I get to see whatever departmental HPI has been reported.

“The LFI (learnings from incident) process ensures that they’re all being addressed. And they are by no means diminished or thought of as secondary issues.

“They’re an incident that happened at the site and they need to be addressed through our LFI process and, we’ll agree, we need to be able to incorporate more of the learnings from those more broadly across our business.”

Public hearings continue in Brisbane today.