Moranbah North coal heating unlike Grosvenor incident

The lookout at Moranbah North coal mine. Image: Anglo American.

Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson understands that no ignition occurred during the coal heating incident at the Moranbah North coal mine in Queensland last month.

On February 20, a coal heating incident led to a site shutdown and worker evacuation at Moranbah North.

The company’s investigation into the incident has found the coal heating was not similar to the ignition incident that occurred at the Grosvenor mine in Queensland on May 6 last year.

The methane levels on the longwall were within regulatory levels at Moranbah North.

“Based on our review of the evidence, we do not believe an ignition has occurred, and the most likely cause of the incident was coal heating and a large goaf fall behind the longwall face. This was a completely different incident to the methane ignition at Grosvenor mine on May 6 2020,” he said.

“Our Moranbah North team immediately took a number of steps to manage the incident, and goaf conditions normalised shortly after the incident occurred.

“Expert technical advice is informing our risk assessment process, which is currently under way with a cross-section of the workforce, and includes a review of measures to prevent a reoccurrence.”

Anglo American is now conducting a series of briefings to inform its workforce about the investigation and the return to site.

“Ultimately our processes worked to keep people safe, but we are always striving to find solutions to detect and address issues before they arise,” Mitchelson said.

“We are currently using proven industry methods to manage spontaneous combustion risk in our mines, and will continue to seek out and assess other methods that may provide a higher level of control.”

Anglo American has been actively implementing measures to improve its controls since last year’s incident at the Grosvenor mine.