Experts are continuing assessments to pinpoint the cause of an event which prompted Anglo American to evacuate workers from its Moranbah North underground coal mine at the weekend.
The company said elevated levels of some gases in the goaf had triggered the withdrawal of workers from the longwall operation as a safety precaution.
“At the time of the incident, we had been mining through some particularly challenging geology and every precaution was being taken,” an Anglo American spokeswoman said.
“The conclusions from the expert review of the incident will inform a comprehensive risk assessment prior to re-entry, which will require regulatory approval.
“The safety of our workforce remains our priority and we are keeping them closely informed.”
The company stated today that conditions underground were normalising in response to the measures being taken at Moranbah North, but mining activities remained suspended.
Anglo seeks to re-enter blast mine
The incident came as the company defended its plans to re-enter the Grosvenor mine, where five workers were injured in an underground explosion last May.
CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth who told The Australian that the mine’s workforce ‘to a man and woman’ were fearful of going back into the mine without knowing the cause of the explosion.
Anglo American says the area of Grosvenor mine where the ignition occurred has been permanently sealed with large concrete seals.
A spokeswoman confirmed they were seeking approval from Resources Safety and Health Queensland to re-enter the mine to perform safety and compliance inspections, including restoring power and gas monitoring.
“This is the next step in a number of stages before we recommence longwall mining, and we have been addressing feedback from RSHQ during this process,” she said.
“In the absence of having a confirmed ignition source, we have extensively risk-assessed all potential sources and committed to a range of measures to improve our controls and introduce further technological innovations across our underground mines.
“This includes fast-tracking the use of automation and remote operation including through the purchase of new longwall equipment for Grosvenor mine, piloting pressure sensor technology, introducing a further layer of quality control for the supply of underground mining equipment, and establishing a data analytics centre to support our operations.”