Rothery ‘horrified’ by former workmates’ fight for life
FORMER Mine's Rescue and Grosvenor miner Wade Rothery has described being "horrified" hearing the news members of his former crew were fighting for their lives after an explosion in the Central Queensland mine.
Mr Rothery established the first long wall at the Anglo American Grosvenor Mine in 2016 and was a part of the company's award-winning Queensland Mines Rescue team that claimed the state championship in 2016 and 2018.
"I'm completely shocked by what occurred on Wednesday," the One Nation candidate for Keppel said.
"I know many of the crew personally and I would never question their safety protocol as a team.
"I've spoken to some of the families whose husbands and partners have been involved and they're going through an enormously difficult time."
"Like everyone, I'm sitting here questioning how gas levels reached an explosive range when every section of the pit is fitted with highly sensitive and compulsory gas monitors?
"At 3pm, the mine is typically at its busiest with both the day and afternoon crews underground."
The blast happened at Anglo American's Grosvenor coal mine at Moranbah, south-west of Mackay about 3pm on Wednesday.
Five miners, in their 40s and 50s, were seriously burnt in the explosion.
Their injuries were so serious, they had to be flown in separate aircraft to Brisbane with doctors and nurses treating them on board.
Mr Rothery said the Grosvenor Mine was a contractor pit with staff provided through One Key Resources.
The mine will remain closed until the incident is investigated, prompting questions from Mr Rothery about what will happen with staff.
"The crews who work on this site don't have the security of permanent employment and I'm hopeful Anglo American do the right thing," he said.
"This is a very new mine with between 30 and 50 years of coal left at the site, so the company is not going to walk away from it and therefore they shouldn't walk away from the workers on site."
Mr Rothery said mines were required to train just five per cent of staff for mines rescue.
He said this must change to better safeguard workers.
"Every coal mining pit in Queensland should have a mines rescue team, onsite, 24/7 to deal with emergencies like this," he said.
"The practice happens in Poland and Russia and it's time coal mines here in Queensland are forced to again lift their safety standards for the protection of all workers.
"Just like a first aid certificate, all staff should be given basic training in mines rescue."
Mr Rothery believes the shockwave of the incident will ripple through many mining districts and leave a lot questioning their involvement in the industry.
"Incidents like this have an immeasurable effect on the mining community with so many families with a son, daughter or partner asking the question, 'is it all worth it?'"