Anglo American has commenced a staged re-entry of the Grosvenor coal mine in Queensland after receiving approval from the state’s mines inspectorate.
The company has sent its 800 workers and contractors at the Bowen Basin mine home on full pay after last week’s explosion.
Operations at Grosvenor will remain suspended until the cause of the accident have been identified, the company stated.
Anglo American chief executive of metallurgical coal business Tyler Mitchelson said, “We will not resume mining until we are satisfied that we know what happened and how we can avoid it happening again.
“Our team at Grosvenor has worked tirelessly, under challenging circumstances, to ensure we can safely re-enter the mine so we can begin investigations and I want to acknowledge their work and dedication.
“It would not be right for us or anyone else to comment on the circumstances leading up to this incident, as this will all form part of the thorough expert investigation. It is therefore very premature for anyone to speculate on the causes of this particular incident.”
The explosion took place at the Grosvenor mine last Wednesday afternoon, prompting an evacuation. All workers were accounted for following the evacuation.
Five men were injured in the accident and sent to Moranbah Hospital for immediate medical treatment, before being transferred to Brisbane.
The men continued to be treated at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital once they were moved to the state capital.
Ahead of the re-entry, the Anglo American team has reconnected its gas monitoring equipment, restored power underground and pumped excess water from the mine.
Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) chief executive Tania Constable said last week that the MCA was deeply saddened by the accident.
“Our thoughts go to the families and friends of the injured workers. The Australian minerals industry’s first priority is the safety and health of its workforce,” she said.
“The MCA will continue to support the commitment of its members and the broader industry to an industry free of fatalities, injuries and industrial diseases.”
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane added that more than 100 industry representatives would reaffirm their commitment to the priority of safety during a COVID-19 teleconference update.
“No one knows precisely what happened at Grosvenor mine (last week), and the mines inspectorate is undertaking a full investigation and it will make its findings,” he said.
“No one should preempt those findings. On behalf of the industry, I told (Queensland’s) mines minister Anthony Lynham the inspectorate will have our support and cooperation.”
The Grosvenor mine is a longwall metallurgical coal operation that has been producing since 2016.
Anglo American produced 540,900 tonnes at Grosvenor during the March quarter, a 47 per cent drop against the previous quarter due to a longwall move.
The mine has a nameplate capacity of 7.5 million tonnes a year and a mine life in excess of 30 years.