Small fire at Bengalla coal mine

Spontaneous combustion saw a small fire break out at Rio Tinto’s Bengalla mine this week.

The incident occurred on Tuesday morning in one of the coal seams at the open cut operation.

It understood the blaze was extinguished before lunch.

A spokesman for the company said the burning coal had been buried in the deepest section of the mine to minimise any chance of re-ignition.

When coal is exposed to oxygen its temperature rises and generates heat and in turn promotes further oxidisation, which can cause it to ignite suddenly.

Earlier this year Glencore saw potential spontaneous combustion issues in the spoil piles at its Collinsville coal mine.

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