Peabody continues to keep fire at North Goonyella under control

The fire that started at Peabody Energy’s North Gonyella coal mine in Bowen Basin in early September has not been completely extinguished, though great progress is starting to show.

Little or no water vapour or white smoke came out of the mine’s one open shaft, and its underground gases levels have declined in the past two weeks.

Peabody has continued to seal the mine’s longwall panel, three of the mine’s five openings and the area where a high concentration of methane was detected.

The company also executed its multi-part plan from the surface and inject high-moisture inert gases to displace oxygen and reduce conditions for a fire.

The Queensland Mines Inspectorate said it had been on site since September 2, and would undertake an investigation into the incident.

Peabody Australia president George Schuller said, “We cannot thank the team enough at North Goonyella, where we are utilising a number of employees at site during the current phase while redeploying some to other Peabody mines.

“We also continue to express our tremendous appreciation for the Inspectorate, Queensland Mines Rescue, the union and business partners. We also have seen an extraordinary outpouring of support from neighbours and the community.”

All mine workers were reported safe, and force majeure notices have been sent to the company’s coal customers and vendors.

During a scheduled longwall move last month, black smoke came from the mine and higher gas levels were identified in an area of the North Gonyella mine.

The targeted completion of the longwall move, which was initially expected in the same month, was revised to the early part of the fourth quarter this year.

While the timeline remains uncertain, its impact will be calculated against Peabody’s third quarter earnings, taking into account the equipment that may be sealed.

Peabody will also determine the next phases of the mine’s stabilisation, assessment, mine planning, re-entry and recovery.