April 12, 2021 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Peak Downs Mine Workshop Destroyed, Prompts Calls for Safety Audit

Peak Downs Mine Workshop Destroyed

An intense storm destroyed several buildings at the Peak Downs Mine in central Queensland’s Bowen Basin region in November 2020.

The Thiess Maintenance Workshop at the Peak Downs Mine collapsed in the November 13, 2020, storm, resulting in mine personnel being exposed to a range of critical risks including falling structures, power sources, and uncontrolled compressed air hoses.

Peak Downs Mine is a large open cut coking coal mine, one of seven mines in the Bowen Basin owned by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, Australia’s largest coal miner and exporter

The shocking footage below shows the moment of collapse of the workshop at the Peaks Down Mine in the storm. Miners can be seen sheltering in a converted shipping container. There were no personal injuries.

The structural damage incurred at the Peaks Down Mine has prompted calls from the mining union for a safety audit of all structures on mine sites

As a result of the damage, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says a rethink is needed on the way buildings and structures are rated for safety and wind speeds.

“The only shining light out of this was no one was injured, which is great,” says CFMEU’s Steve Smythe. 

“Our safety reps were out there yesterday having a look around, but certainly there’s going to have to be a rethink not just of Peak Down Mine but across the industry with storm season on the way,” Smythe added, pointing out that mining companies and their contractors have been erecting flimsy structures, akin to what someone would build in their backyard – but on a much larger scale.

“Companies and contractors have gone and put these in place as a stop-gap measure but, as with anything, they end up staying there as a full-time structure for trucks and people to work in and under,” Smythe commented.

Questions have been raised about the compliance of the Peak Downs Mine structure and similar structures used throughout the mining industry

Sources say that the structure designers have now been questioned with respect to the efficacy of the structure and what calculations formed the basis for the rating of the structure.

Source: Australasian Mine Safety Journal, “Shocking Footage of Mine Workshop Collapse.”

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