MELBOURNE, April 23 (Reuters) - Anglo American Plc AAL.L has not kept its workers fully informed of its plans to restart an underground coal mine in Queensland following a blast that critically injured five people nearly a year ago, a union official said on Thursday.
The miner reopened its Grosvenor coal mine after gaining regulatory approval on Wednesday, and has begun a staged restart, Anglo said. The mine was shut after the explosion last May, the company's second incident in 15 months in the area.
"The workforce has said loud and clear that they want their union safety inspectors kept informed about re-entry plans,” said CFMEU Mining and Energy president for Queensland, Dean Smyth, in a statement.
“Yet our Industry Safety and Health Representatives were not given any notice or information about the re-entry. This has left workers fuming,” he said.
Anglo American in a statement said Smyth's comments were unfounded and that union representatives were part of the restart team and the key representative was notified and invited to the site.
“We have kept our workforce closely informed as we have worked through re-entry planning over the past few months, however until the directive was lifted by the regulator re-entry could not have proceeded,” the company said.
Workers have also raised concerns about a one-on-one interview process that took place ahead of the mine's restart, where they were quizzed about their mental health and ability to work safely underground, Smyth said in the union's statement.
"To put these labour hire workers on the spot, making them fear they’ll be targeted or lose their job, creates unnecessary stress and lack of trust," he said.
“We all want Grosvenor mine to re-open safely. Again, I’m urging the Anglo leadership ... to listen to the reasonable concerns of its workforce and build trust, not breach it.”
The Queensland state government is still investigating the May 2020 incident at the mine, which produced 4.7 million tonnes of metallurgical or steel-making coal in 2019.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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