McArthur River mine halts work after dust issues

The Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy are investigating whether waste rock at Glencore’s McArthur River Mine is burning yet again. 

In 2013 the site’s waste rock combusted, emitting clouds of sulfur dioxide; now the department is determining whether the same instance is occurring again.

NT Mines and Energy minister David Tollner said the government had ordered restrictions on mining at the site while investigations at two waste facilities take place, according to the ABC.

“We’re concerned the same sort of rock was placed on that southern waste facility and the same reaction could be taking place,” Tollner said.

“I am reluctant to speak further on that because there is an investigation taking place and until we know exactly what or if there’s any cause for alarm.”

He said that the department noticed a “rather large plume” coming from the mine on July 23, and upon inspection mine staff found it was dust from mining activities on the dump.

The site was immediately instructed to stop all activity on the dump and provide a report on why certain dust mitigation measures were not adhered to.

He said that the department is investigating both waste sites, the second at the northern waste dump. 

Glencore stated it is co-operating with the Northern Territory’s mine departments.

However, it is understood there are no combustion issues relating to the site, rather there have been higher than usual recorded dust levels at the mine’s northern overburden emplacement facility.

“There is no fire, and there have been no spontaneous combustion issues; it’s very much a dust issue,” a source close to the operation told Australian Mining.

“The mine did put a stop work order on that section of the operation, but it is business as usual on the rest of the site.”