News, Safety events and incidents, Underground operations

Anglo calls in the big guns for Grosvenor fire

Anglo American’s Grosvenor fire has been burning since last weekend. Safe to Work investigates the latest on the evolving situation.

The mining industry has been watching with bated breath this week as Anglo battles an ongoing fire at its Grosvenor underground coal mine in Central Queensland.

The safety of all Grosvenor workers was confirmed before the mine was shut down, with work underway to seal all exits to stem the spread of smoke and extinguish the fire.

It’s the only way to stop the fire, but it’s a delicate process that could become explosive if done incorrectly.

According to the ABC, a dirt, foam, and jet engine has been called in to fight the fire, as well as remote control bulldozers to push dirt towards the shafts entering the mine.

“The sealing efforts mean the amount of oxygen available to the underground fire has greatly reduced,” Anglo told the ABC.

“The QMRS mobile extinguisher unit (GAG) continues to help in this effort. As a result, smoke continues to reduce.”

GAG stands for Górniczy Agregat Gaśniczy in Polish, and roughly translates to “mine fire suppression apparatus”.

As for the surrounding Moranbah area where the mine is located, Anglo is confident there is no danger to locals.

“All monitors are reporting readings within acceptable limits, indicating no impact on community health from smoke or airborne contaminants,” the company said.

With a complex network of tunnels extending half a kilometre underground, quashing the fire quickly and safely is tricky.

Rushing to close off all entrances to the mine could result in an explosion if gas is recirculated back towards the fire.

Anglo said the damage from the fire will likely impact production for several months, but there is hope that damage could be contained, leading to a steady recovery for Grosvenor and its some 1400 workers.

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