Ensham mine making quick recovery

CENTRAL Queensland coal producer Ensham Resources is making a quick recovery from recent flooding with the continuation of operations at its mine near Emerald.

Despite claims that Ensham would be “out of action” until the end of the year, Ensham Resources CEO, John Pegler, said the mine was already approaching around 50% of operational capacity.

Part of Ensham mine was flooded and roads cut when unprecedented floodwaters from the Nogoa River broke through levee banks late last month — filling two of the mine’s six open pits with river water.

Pegler said the speedy recovery of operations was thanks to the leadership of its on-site and Brisbane management teams and the outstanding efforts of its 600 employees and contractors.

“All going well, we expect operational capacity to exceed 70% in the coming weeks and reach normal levels around year’s end,” he said.

Ensham’s CEO was recently joined on a visit to the mine by Queensland Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson who spoke face-to-face with mine workers involved in the recovery and continuation of mine operations.

Akihiko Tembo, President of Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd of Japan, Ensham’s major shareholder, also visited the mine to review the challenges and progress.

Pegler said Ensham would resume shipping coal as soon as possible following the recent resumption of coal mining and blending which would allow rebuilding of stockpiles as coal was progressively uncovered in the four operational pits.

“We are very grateful for the efforts of our employees and the entire management team at the Mine Site and Brisbane who have guided the mine through a very difficult time and are now firmly focussed on the future.

“We are also heartened by the spirit of cooperation and support expressed by Minister Wilson and his department, and also by the EPA which is working closely with Ensham to facilitate the safe and environmentally sustainable evacuation of river water from the two flooded pits.”

Pegler said the three operational draglines and several truck and shovel fleets were continuing to uncover coal in the four accessible pits and in other parts of the mine.

This includes a new pit which is being opened by Ensham’s massive new 7,000 tonne Bucyrus 8750-63 ‘Dragline 4’ — the world’s second largest dragline – which began working in the mine in January 2007 and was moved to safety before the flooding.

Pumping had already commenced and trapped river water back to the river.

The flooded pits are expected to be accessible in a few months time which will allow these pits to be brought back into operations.

Pegler was also confident of the rapid recovery and restoration of the trapped dragline – ‘Dragline 1’ – which he hoped would be placed back in operation by the end of the year.

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