Grosvenor sets down timeline to reopen mine after blast

ANGLO American has revealed the timeline to reopening its underground operation after five workers suffered horrific injuries in a methane blast in May.

Operations are not expected to restart until the second half of next year with mining at the longwall site suspended since the May 6 incident.

The company has started briefing its workforce about the plan.

Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the company was taking its time to ensure the safe restart of operations at Grosvenor, with safety the highest priority.

"It's unacceptable that our colleagues were seriously injured on 6 May," he said.

An aerial image of Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright
An aerial image of Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Daryl Wright

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

"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.

"The decision to permanently seal the longwall area continues our step by step approach to working through the Grosvenor incident.

"Safety comes first, and we're taking the time to ensure mining does not restart until we know it's safe to do so."

Moranbah father Turi Wiki was injured in the underground explosion at Grosvenor Mine on May 6.
Moranbah father Turi Wiki was injured in the underground explosion at Grosvenor Mine on May 6.

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Three temporary seals were installed in the longwall area over the past two weeks.

This allowed Anglo American to isolate the area of the mine where heating occurred and stabilise the environment before starting the permanent sealing work.

"We are in the process of developing the detailed technical road map to safely restart mining next year, including a detailed risk assessment process involving internal and external experts," Mr Mitchelson said.

"New longwall equipment will be purchased, providing us with the opportunity to assess the best available technology to further expedite our 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."

The remote operation centre at Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Glenn Hunt
The remote operation centre at Grosvenor Mine. Picture: Glenn Hunt

A pilot study to assess the use of pressure sensors to cut power to the longwall at Moranbah North is under way and the company will be reviewing all technology options to improve controls at Grosvenor.

Mr Mitchelson said it was "unacceptable" that five workers were injured at the mine.

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"Mining operations at Grosvenor will restart with the benefit of learnings from our investigation and the Board of Inquiry's recommendations, and with additional safety measures in place," he said.

"Where appropriate, these learnings will be applied across our business and may have implications 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."



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