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The Grosvenor operation in Queensland. Image: Anglo American

Anglo American workers have started to re-enter the Grosvenor underground coal mine in Queensland for the first time since activities halted following an incident in May 2020.

The company has undertaken a staged re-entry approach and gradually welcome more workers back to site.

The first team, who re-entered on Thursday, will conduct safety and compliance inspections and restore power and gas monitoring.

Anglo American metallurgical coal chief executive officer Tyler Mitchelson said this would ensure the mine remains safe.

“Following a substantive program of work that included permanently sealing the impacted area of the mine with five large, concrete seals and installing additional gas monitoring infrastructure, we completed a highly rigorous risk assessment process ahead of re-entry, drawing on both internal and external experts,” he said.

“We are taking a staged approach to re-entry, with the team initially completing safety and compliance inspections, and restoring power and gas monitoring to ensure the safety and integrity of the mine.”

Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ) approved the re-entry, which has allowed Anglo American to bring back the mine workers.

“I would like to acknowledge the very thorough and detailed approach taken by RSHQ in working with us over the past few months to ensure the permanent sealing process and our risk assessment for mine re-entry reflects leading industry practice,” Mitchelson said.

In May 2020, an ignition event at the Grosvenor coal mine injured five people.

The company had since focussed on safety improvement work by delivering remote operations.

“…These solutions will be embedded at Grosvenor prior to restarting longwall mining in the second half of this year,” Mitchelson said.

“The safety of our workforce is our priority and we are continuing to engage closely with them and support all of our colleagues who were impacted by the incident last year.”

Anglo American produced 3.3 million tonnes of metallurgical coal in the 2021 March quarter. This was down from 3.8 million tonnes in the 2020 March quarter

The company also produced 4.9 million tonnes of thermal coal in the 2021 March quarter, compared with 6.2 million tonnes in the previous corresponding period.