The Queensland Government has introduced new health and safety regulations for methane gas monitoring in the State’s underground coal mines.

The reforms, coming into force from 6 January 2020, place stricter controls on methane gas monitoring in the nine operating underground coal mines in Queensland.  The new regulations will also require additional methane monitors at each of the State’s underground coal mines.

The regulations prescribe new requirements for managing risks associated with methane and the potential for ignition in underground coal mines.

Previously, there was a “legislative gap concerning inert or other atmospheres that are not explosive”, which required “new gas monitoring electrical equipment to be certified as explosion protected before being used in any area of an underground mine,” the explanatory note read.

“The certification of electrical equipment is a long and costly process, which can result in lengthy delays for the adoption of new and innovative technology at underground mines,” it said.

The new regulations purport to remove unnecessary regulatory burden on mine operators safely using gas monitoring equipment in areas of the mine without dangerous methane levels.

Minister for Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said the reforms follow extensive consultation with stakeholders including the Queensland Resources Council, site senior executives, coal mine workers and unions.

“The resources regulator will continue to work with underground coal mines to ensure these new measures are implemented as soon as possible,” he said.

The reform follows a number of safety and health measures introduced by the Queensland Government including:

  • $35 million commitment to deliver reforms to improve the safety and health of mine workers;
  • a commitment to controlling mine dust levels;
  • $1.21 million in funding for a Mobile Health Screening Van to improve black lung and silicosis screening;
  • introducing the Resources Safety and Health Queensland Bill 2019;
  • worksite safety reset sessions of mine and quarry workers and employers statewide; plus
  • more reforms reportedly set to come in the new year.

The Queensland Resources Council did not raise any concerns in relation to the proposed regulation.

The mining union welcomed the new regulations it said improves underground gas monitoring and management.