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Diversified miner Anglo American has started briefing staff in Queensland on the re-entry process into its Moranbah North coal mine.

The miner in February this year undertook the controlled withdrawal of staff at the mine following a change in underground conditions, when confirmation was received of elevated readings of the gases that would indicate a coal heating event.

“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 in May 2020,” said Anglo’s metallurical coal CEO Tyler Mitchelson.

“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 underway with a cross-section of the workforce, and includes a review of measures to prevent a reoccurrence.

 

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

Mitchelson noted that over the past 12 months, Anglo American has put in place a range of measures to improve controls, such as creating a new Met Coal Analytics Centre to enhance its predictive capabilities in gas and strata, investing in additional surface infrastructure and fast-tracking technology solutions.

“Technological solutions offer the best opportunity to deliver a step-change improvement in safety in underground mining and we are leveraging our scale in underground coal mining and investing in a number of areas. Moranbah North is piloting some of this pioneering work including remote longwall operation and other technological innovations,” he added.

“We are continuing to engage closely with our workforce and union representatives, and continue to welcome any feedback they have to improve safety at our mines.