Hidden danger found on Qld sugarcane farms | Resources Safety & Health Queensland Skip to content

Hidden danger found on Qld sugarcane farms

06 December 2023

Inspectors at Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) are urging sugarcane farmers to check their properties for potentially deadly explosives.

Nitro-glycerine-based explosives, better known as gelignite, were sold in the 1970s to the 1980s to clear rocks and stumps from farms.

But Gelignite (also referred to as dynamite or AN60 explosives) becomes more dangerous with age.

RSHQ's Deputy Chief Inspector of Explosives Snezana Bajic said one stick is enough to seriously harm or kill a person.

"The thing that most people don’t realise, is that nitro-glycerine explosives become more dangerous as they age which can lead to an unplanned explosion from changing temperatures or the way they’re stored," said Ms Bajic.

"On average, we're recovering gelignite from one sugarcane farm every year in Queensland, and we know there’s more out there.

"It's often discovered after a relative passes away, and hands the farm over to the next generation."

Arthur Reck was left 930 hectares of land North of Bundaberg when his uncle died.

He knew he was inheriting sugarcane; what he didn’t expect to find were deadly explosives.

“I knew what it was as soon as I opened the door and looked in there because I grew up with my family using those explosives,” said Mr Reck.

Arthur called the police, who called RSHQ to dispose of the gelignite safely.

Sugarcane farmers should also keep an eye out for detonators which accompany the explosives, typically with the NOBEL or ICI brand and found in square tins or cardboard boxes. 

“The best thing you can do is call RSHQ so we can make sure you and your family are safe,” said Ms Bajic.

If you believe there are explosives on your property, call RSHQ’s 24-hour Explosives Hotline on 1300 739 868. Inspectors are there to help. It is illegal to have explosives in Queensland without a licence or authority to do so, however, there is no penalty for surrendering explosives.



Media contact

Amy McCann

0457 094 250


Last updated: 06 Dec 2023