Austar sees another coalburst, two injured, operations halted

Yancoal’s Austar coal mine has recorded another dangerous coalburst, knocking two workers to the ground.

This is the second time an incident such as this occurred at the mine, after two workers were killed in a similar coalburst, in 2014.

Jamie Mitchell, 49, and Phillip Grant, 35, along with five other miners were working with a continuous miner in 2014 when a catastrophic rock burst, or “pressure bump” caused a 15 metre long wall of coal to collapse, covering the men and the continuous mining machine in many tonnes of coal.

It is believed the two men were killed instantly, as they were working on the side of the machine nearest to the rib of coal that collapsed.

In August this year, the mine recorded another “pressure bump of significant intensity [which] was immediately followed by a ‘dynamic’ ejection of coal from the longwall B2 face during production at Austar,” the NSW Department of Industry reported.

“The ejection of coal from the face resulted in two workers being knocked to the ground and struck by small pieces of coal.”

Luckily there were no serious injuries recorded.

It is believed that between 11 to 12 tonnes of coal was projected from the face over an area covering around 50 metres of face length, with around 400 kilograms travelling up to seven metres into the walkway area of the powered supports.

Longwall operations have been suspended at the mine following a geotechnical assessment and review of the incident.

According to the Department, “the incident of coalburst is not well-documented in Australia to date, with only one previous incident associated, when there was a double fatality in a development panel in 2014…this incident [also] occurred at Austar.”

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