Academic says Victorian fire no sign of threat to QLD mines

A MONTH-long blaze engulfing a Victorian coal mine and blanketing the nearby town of Morwell with potentially-toxic smoke is not a sign to panic for those near Queensland's open-cut operations.

Following a grass-fire on February 29 that spilled into the Hazelwood brown-coal mine, a blaze has raged inside.

Victorian medical experts warned those living nearby to evacuate because the coal-fed fog could be a hazard to their health.

Queensland has plenty of towns with coal mines large and small only a short distance from their city limits.

So will it happen here?

According to University of Queensland's top mine safety expert: probably not.

Professor David Cliff said Victoria had brown coal, a particularly flammable form of coal that the state's miners sometimes within a metre of the surface.

Queensland's mines are black coal, less likely to ignite and far further away from the surface, making it far harder for a fire to make contact.

"Most of our black coal is perhaps 30m below the surface," he said.

"The connect between the grass on the surface and the coal is just not there."

Prof Cliff likened the grassfire reaching the exposed mine as "instead of lighting the corner of a piece of paper, it lit the whole paper in one hit".

Victoria's Country Fire Authority expects to have much of the Hazelwood fire under control today [MON], also there will be some fires continuing to burn potentially for weeks to come.


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