Gas ignition scare at Middlemount
A SMALL “frictional” ignition of gas caused a scare at Anglo American's Capcoal Grasstree mine in Middlemount.
Work has stopped in a development section of the mine until later this week, following a “detailed internal investigation” into the incident.
President of CFMEU Mining and Energy Steve Smyth yesterday said he believed the incident was caused by a continuous miner that intersected a methane drainage hole.
Mr Smyth confirmed that a similar incident, where workers mined into an area of gas at Vale's Carborough Downs mine in Moranbah, occurred without ignition on Friday.
He said both were very serious and had the potential to cause an explosion.
“You only have to look what's happening around the world in coal mining. When something goes wrong it is big-scale,” he said.
“It was controlled at the source, which is a bonus for what the potential consequences could have been.”
A spokeswoman from Anglo American yesterday said the ignition at Grasstree self-extinguished after about 10 seconds last Monday at 6.45pm.
A case study from Xstrata states frictional ignition occurs when high levels of methane in the coal seam are ignited by a spark, usually a result of the cutting tool striking the rock. The spokeswoman said frictional ignition was a recognised hazard in coal mining, and the company had stringent controls in place to manage the risk.
“Following the incident on Monday, the working area was contained and an inspection was carried out by the Mines Inspectorate,” she said.
“The Inspectorate confirmed that all the appropriate controls were in place at Grasstree. Work is expected to recommence later this week.”