‘Unsafe’ mine space sealed for good


MINING giant Anglo American will permanently seal a section of a central Queensland coal mine where a blast nearly killed five workers in May.

Investigators are still probing what caused the blast but management briefed workers yesterday on plans to resume operations at the Grosvenor mine in the second half of 2021.

Anglo American metallurgical coal business CEO Tyler Mitchelson said the company was taking its time to ensure mining did not restart until "we know it's safe to do so".

"We have made the decision to permanently seal the part of the longwall panel where the methane ignition incident occurred in May," he said.

The entry to the Grosvenor mine near Moranbah, where five men were injured in a May 6 blast.
The entry to the Grosvenor mine near Moranbah, where five men were injured in a May 6 blast.

"Permanent sealing provides the greatest level of safety and will help facilitate works to prepare Grosvenor mine for a safe restart of operations, which is likely to be in the second half of 2021."

All work was immediately halted at the underground mine after the May 6 blast.

Employees have been supported through the following months however Mr Mitchelson did not reveal if there would be job losses during the prolonged shut down.

"As we develop our technical road map to restarting longwall mining next year, we will work through the resourcing impacts and will be engaging further with our workforce over coming weeks," he said.

"Surface activities will continue and underground development work will resume when it is safe to do so."

Earlier this month company investigators revealed they had pieced together a tragic minute in the mine that followed an unusually large release of methane gas but had not determined what sparked the blast.

Mr Mitchelson said it was "unacceptable" that five men had been injured.

"Our injured colleagues are continuing their medical treatment on the road to recovery and we continue to offer support to our colleagues and their families," he said.

He said the operations would only restart "with the benefit of learnings" from the investigation and a separate Board of Inquiry probe.

"Over the past two weeks we have installed three temporary seals in the longwall area, which has allowed us to isolate the area of the mine where heating occurred and stabilise the environment prior to the permanent sealing work commencing," he said.

He said the company would buy new longwall equipment that would be the "best available technology to further expedite our automation and technology journey at Grosvenor".

Originally published as 'Unsafe' mine space sealed for good