Global mining company Anglo American has begun briefing its workforce at Grosvenor Mine and other Queensland operations on its plans to safely restart operations at Grosvenor in the second half of 2021. Tyler Mitchelson, Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, stated that the company is taking the time to ensure the safe restart of operations at Grosvenor, assessing all technology options, following a methane ignition incident in May 2020. Since then, the company has permanently sealed the part of the longwall panel where the incident occurred, to help facilitate works to prepare Grosvenor Mine to restart operations.
“The decision to permanently seal the longwall area continues our step-by-step approach to working through the Grosvenor incident,” Mitchelson said. “Safety comes first, and we’re taking the time to ensure mining does not restart until we know it’s safe to do so.” In recent weeks, the company has installed three temporary seals in the longwall area, to isolate the area of the mine where heating occurred and stabilise the environment prior to the permanent sealing work commencing. The company is also developing a detailed technical roadmap to safely restart mining in 2021, including a detailed risk assessment process involving internal and external experts.
New longwall equipment will provide the opportunity to assess the best available technology to further expedite the company’s automation and technology journey at Grosvenor. “As we communicated to our workforce, including key contractors, recently, we are continuing to review our controls to prevent a methane ignition occurring again,” Mitchelson said. “The pilot study to assess the use of pressure sensors to cut power to the longwall at Moranbah North is underway and we will be reviewing all technology options to improve our controls at Grosvenor. This work will continue as more information becomes available from investigations.”
Five men were injured in the methane ignition that occurred on 6 May 2020. Alongside developing a technical roadmap, the company will work through the resourcing impacts and will be engaging further with its workforce over coming weeks. Surface activities will continue and underground development work will resume when it is safe to do so.
Mitchelson reassures that mining operations at Grosvenor will restart with the benefit of learnings from its investigation, and the Board of Inquiry’s recommendations, with additional safety measures in place. The learnings could also be applied across the industry. “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,” Mitchelson said.
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Michael Evans