Moranbah coal mine fire shows danger of methane

The ongoing fire at Grosvenor coal mine near Moranbah shows the real danger of methane emissions to workers and the climate, Queensland Conservation Council says.

The underground coal mine has been plagued by methane related issues since opening eight years ago, including an explosion in 2020 and this current fire. The mine’s operator has conceded the fire started blazing due to methane gas which ignited on the longwall coalface, putting workers and local residents in danger.

Queensland Conservation Council calls on the Federal Government to require better reporting of methane from coal mining, and for the State Government to implement decarbonisation targets for existing coal mines to achieve a safe workplace and climate for Queenslanders.

Queensland Conservation Council Energy Strategist Clare Silcock said:

“We are relieved that no one was injured in this round of methane related problems at the Grosvenor coal mine. But this fire clearly shows coal companies can’t continue to downplay their methane emissions.

“Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas which causes up to 80 times more warming than carbon dioxide over 20 years. Increasingly, satellite data is able to show that coal mining companies operating in Queensland have been underreporting methane emissions for decades. The International Energy Agency calculated that, in 2022, Australia’s methane emissions from coal mining were 60% higher than reported by companies. 

“Coal companies don’t want to report their true emissions because it will reveal the dirty secret that coal mining is driving up Queensland’s carbon pollution, and has no place in the net zero future most Queenslanders want.

“The Grosvenor coal mine workers are now facing a deeply uncertain future. We need certainty from the Government on a transition away from dangerous, polluting coal mines towards green industries of the future.

“Federally, Minister Chris Bowen is currently considering changes to the way that companies report methane and we hope this incident causes him to bring in strict regulations. 

“The Queensland Government also needs to bring into place promised decarbonisation plans for the resources sector to address one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution in Queensland.

“The Grosvenor mine is an underground metallurgical coal mine which has higher levels of methane than most but also means it is easier to measure and catch methane. We’re seeing huge amounts of methane leak from coal mines which are not reported correctly, especially from open cut mines.

“The coal Queensland exports fuels global climate chaos. The Grosvenor fire shows that it is also affecting Queensland’s climate emissions and companies can’t ignore this any longer.

“We need strong action to reduce emissions from coal mining through better regulations on methane reporting and decarbonisation targets tied into existing coal mines to achieve a safe workplace for Queenslanders and climate for us all.”