Anglo American plans to introduce remote operations across its Queensland coal mines to improve safety and control plans following a gas ignition event at the Grosvenor mine in May.
The mining giant is updating its safety and controls plans with data science and technical innovation to avoid having similar accidents in the future.
Anglo American has also announced that it will establish a met coal analytics centre within its Brisbane office, where operational, engineering and data science experts will collaborate to look at the challenges and opportunities ahead for its Queensland mines.
Anglo American chief executive of metallurgical coal business Tyler Mitchelson said as the company prioritised safely resuming longwall operations next year, the centre would primarily focus on underground gas and ventilation management.
“As the largest coal miner in Australia we are uniquely positioned to leverage our own data and technology to transform the way we analyse data to drive safer operations, better decisions and achieve mining excellence,” Mitchelson said.
“We will immediately commence a global scan of data science and technical options to improve predictive modelling in this area as well as improvements in gas drainage.”
Operations were halted at the Grosvenor mine in May following a methane gas ignition event which injured five Anglo American employees.
While the company intends to restart longwall operations at the Bowen Basin site mid-2021, this is all dependent on a detailed technical roadmap that the company is currently working through.
“This work includes industry leading work on piloting the use of pressure sensors to cut power to the longwall and bolstering our plans for remote operation in our underground mines,” Mitchelson explained.
“We are seeing positive early results from laboratory testing of the pressure sensors as the pilot study progresses.
“While pressure sensors are already in use, it is new technology to integrate them with equipment to remove power from the longwall face if a significant overpressure event occurs.”
The next step in the roadmap plan is for Anglo American to safely re-enter the Grosvenor mine to complete permanent seals and re-establish mine integrity.
Anglo American is ensuring that all recent learnings, including from the Grosvenor accident investigation which is still underway will be actioned within the business.
“Safety comes first and we’re taking the time to ensure mining does not restart until we know it’s safe to do so,” Mitchelson concluded.