Anglo American targets remote QLD operations

The Grosvenor operation in Queensland. Image: Anglo American

Anglo American is completing a series of workforce briefings at the Grosvenor coal mine in Queensland to improve safety using data science ahead of planned restart of longwall mining at the site next year.

The company is updating its safety and controls plans through data science and technical innovation at Grosvenor and its other Queensland operations to avoid future accidents.

Chief executive officer of Anglo American’s metallurgical coal business Tyler Mitchelson said the company is prioritising safety for its planning processes for the reopen of the mine, which is scheduled to restart longwall operations in the second half of 2021.

This is in line with Anglo American announcing the establishment of a met coal analytics centre in its Brisbane office, which brings together operational, engineering and data science experts to look at the challenges and opportunities for its mines.

“As the largest underground coal miner in Australia, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our own data and technology to transform the way we analyse data to drive safer operations, better decisions and achieve mining excellence,” Mitchelson said.

“The first priority for this centre will be in underground operations gas and ventilation management. We will immediately commence a global scan of data science and technical options to improve predictive modelling in this area, as well as improvements in gas drainage.

“While investigations are still underway we are continuing to improve controls across our mines as information becomes available.”

This includes piloting the use of pressure systems to cut longwall power and plans for remote operation in Anglo American’s underground mines.

The company is targeting fully remote capabilities this year, according to Michelson, with strong progress made with the technology in place at the Moranbah North mine in recent weeks.

“Removing people from potential harm is the best way to improve safety in underground mining,” he said.

“We are seeing positive early results from laboratory testing of the pressure sensors as the pilot study progresses.

“While pressure sensors are already in use, it is new technology to integrate them with equipment to remove power from the longwall face if a significant overpressure event occurs.”

This comes as Anglo American continues to work through a detailed technical roadmap to safely restart mining at Grosvenor, in response to a gas ignition event at the Bowen Basin site on May 6.

The next step in the process will be safely re-entering the mine to complete permanent seals and re-establishing the mine integrity.

“Safety comes first and we’re taking the time to ensure mining does not restart until we know it’s safe to do so,” Mitchelson concluded.

Anglo American is continuing to provide support to the workers injured in the May 6 accident, as well as the first responders from Grosvenor mine.

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