Anglo American’s Moranbah North mine. Picture Tara Miko
Anglo American’s Moranbah North mine. Picture Tara Miko

Anglo American’s re-entry to Moranbah North mine stalls

Workers have still not returned underground at a Central Queensland mine after elevated gas levels prompted an evacuation of the site last month.

A potential spontaneous heating event in a longwall panel raised the alarm at Anglo American’s Moranbah North Mine on February 20.

It has now been more than five weeks since workers were underground.

On March 5, Anglo American said it was completing a risk assessment for workers to re-enter the mine, which required the approval of mining regulator Resources Safety and Health Queensland.

In an update late Monday, an RSHQ spokeswoman said the Queensland mines inspectorate’s directive preventing entry to underground remained in place.

“RSHQ understands that Anglo American’s investigation of the event of February 20, which it must complete under mining safety and health legislation, is ongoing,” the spokeswoman said.

“The mines inspectorate met with Moranbah North’s management and technical experts last week and continue to receive updates on the mine’s investigation.”

In a statement, an Anglo American spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to work through our processes with RSHQ prior to re-entry occurring, including finalising document reviews and implementing additional controls which have arisen through our detailed risk assessment.”

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On March 5, the company’s metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said 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 on May 6 2020,” Mr Mitchelson said.

“Our Moranbah North team immediately took a number of steps to manage the incident, and goaf conditions normalised shortly after the incident occurred.”

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