Peabody Energy is re-entering Zone 1 of the North Goonyella coking coal mine in consultation with the Queensland Mines Inspectorate, 10 months after a fire shut the operation.
North Goonyella, near Moranbah, was impacted by a fire caused by high gas levels during a longwall move in September 2018.
The fire occurred two months after the company announced plans to build a new mining area (North Goonyella South) to help extend the mine’s life to 2026.
It caused extensive damage and led to the eventual closure of the site.
Activities in the re-entry process are part of a comprehensive, phased reventilating and safe re-entry plan for the mine, according to Peabody Australia president George Schuller.
“Following the reventilation of Zone 1 of the mine, our team is ready to return underground and move us yet one step closer to resuming normal operations,” Schuller said.
“We appreciate the dedication and participation of our trained employees, as well as the Queensland Mine Rescue Service, as we continue to advance this process.”
The first zone of the mine represents approximately 25 per cent of the area to be re-entered and the area expected to be least affected by the incident.
Upon re-entering Zone 1, Peabody will assess conditions underground and make any necessary repairs required prior to reventilating Zone 2.
The Queensland Mines Inspectorate said it continues to provide advice to the North Goonyella mine personnel to ensure the level of risk to workers is at an acceptable level.
This has extended to having inspectors onsite since the fire last year and throughout the more recent process of reviewing the operator’s risk management activities ahead of re-entry.
The Mines Inspectorate team will also re-enter the mine as part of its ongoing investigation to gather further information surrounding the fire.
Peabody said it would provide a more detailed update on the re-entry as part of its second quarter earnings release.
The United States-based company’s Australian interests include several mines in the Bowen Basin region, such as Millennium, Middlemount, Coppabella and Moorvale, as well as mines in the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales.