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

Anglo American planning re-entry to evacuated CQ mine

A mining giant is planning a re-entry to a Central Queensland mine almost two weeks after it was evacuated following elevated gas levels.

Anglo American is completing a risk assessment for workers to re-enter Moranbah North mine, which still needs to be approved by mining regulator Resources Safety and Health Queensland.

Investigations into the incident on February 20, where a potential spontaneous heating event in a longwall panel occurred, have been completed.

Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson said the company had started briefing its workforce on the investigation and re-entry process.

"Based on our review of the evidence, we do not believe an ignition has occurred, and the most likely cause of the incident was coal heating and a large goaf fall behind the longwall face," Mr Mitchelson said.

"This was a completely different incident to the methane ignition at Grosvenor Mine on May 6 2020.

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

"Expert technical advice is informing our risk assessment process, which is currently under way with a cross-section of the workforce, and includes a review of measures to prevent a re-occurrence.

"Ultimately our processes worked to keep people safe, but we are always striving to find solutions to detect and address issues before they arise.

"We are currently using proven industry methods to manage spontaneous combustion risk in our mines, and will continue to seek out and assess other methods that may provide a higher level of control."

The Daily Mercury understands methane levels on the longwall were within the regulatory levels during the incident.

A Resources Safety and Health Queensland spokeswoman said it understood Anglo American's investigation of the event of February 20, which it must complete under mining safety and health legislation, was ongoing.

"The mines inspectorate met with Moranbah North's management and technical experts this week and received an update on the mine's investigation," the spokeswoman said.

"The Queensland mines inspectorate's directive preventing entry to the underground workings remains in place at this time."

CFMEU mining and energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said while the union looked forward to the mine reopening safely, it does not support Anglo's current re-entry plans.

"We have real concerns about the lack information being provided to workers about what has occurred and conditions underground," Mr Smyth said.

"It is workers who put their lives on the line when they go back underground and they need trust and confidence that they will be safe."

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