Yancoal mine suspension is lifted by NSW Resources Regulator

Image: Yancoal Australia

Yancoal has received regulatory approval to recommence production at the Austar mine, after it was suspended from conducting all longwall activities on July 9.

Employees that were previously reassigned to Yancoal’s other underground operations will now be returning to Austar.

The Chinese-backed company received two prohibition notices from NSW Resources Regulator this year, following a series of coal burst incidents in February, March and May.

In February, 50 tonnes (t) of coal exploded from a longwall, leading to the hand injury and hospital treatment of one mine worker.

No mine workers were injured in the other incidents, despite a 60t material explosion from a longwall face in May.

The NSW Resources Regulator urged the company to undertake a detailed geotechnical assessment until the regulator was assured mine workers were protected from further incidents. Until then, the regulator would suspend all longwall activities at Austar.

In July, Yancoal submitted an appeal for an external merits review to resume its Austar operation to the Industrial Relations Commission.

Yancoal Australia chief executive Reinhold Schmidt said at the time, “Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity.”

In 2017, Yancoal produced 2Mt of coal at the Austar mine, including 1.9Mt of saleable output.

The Austar mine is wholly owned by Yancoal and employs 205 people.