Anglo American is anticipating a safe restart of the Grosvenor coal mine in Queensland for the second half of next year.
The mine has remained shut since a methane ignition accident occurred in May.
Workers from the Grosvenor mine and the Anglo American’s other Queensland operations are going through briefings on how safely recommence operations at the site.
Anglo American Metallurgical Coal business chief executive officer Tyler Mitchelson said the company was taking its time to restart operations to ensure the restart was safe, while also assessing technology options.
“We have made the decision to permanently seal the part of the longwall panel where the methane ignition incident occurred in May,” he said.
“Permanent sealing provides the greatest level of safety, and will help facilitate works to prepare Grosvenor mine for a safe restart of operations, which is likely to be in the second half of 2021.”
The mine’s permanent longwall seal is part of its “step by step approach” of working through the May incident.
“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 said.
“Over the past two weeks, we have installed three temporary seals in the longwall area, which has allowed us to isolate the area of the mine where heating occurred and stabilise the environment prior to the permanent sealing work commencing.
“We are in the process of developing the detailed technical roadmap to safely restart mining next year, including a detailed risk assessment process involving internal and external experts.
“New longwall equipment will be purchased, providing us with the opportunity to assess the best available technology to further expedite our automation and technology journey at Grosvenor.”
Anglo American is also reviewing controls that can prevent another methane ignition, Mitchelson said.
“The pilot study to assess the use of pressure sensors to cut power to the longwall at Moranbah North is under way and we will be reviewing all technology options to improve our controls at Grosvenor. This work will continue as more information becomes available from investigations,” he said.
The Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry is set to commence public hearings regarding the Grosvenor accident next month.
“It’s unacceptable that our colleagues were seriously injured on 6 May,” Mitchelson said.
“Mining operations at Grosvenor will restart with the benefit of learnings from our investigation and the Board of Inquiry’s recommendations, and with additional safety measures in place. Where appropriate, these learnings will be applied across our business and may have implications across the industry.
“Our injured colleagues are continuing their medical treatment on the road to recovery and we continue to offer support to our colleagues and their families.”