West Wallsend longwall collapse halts production

A longwall collapse at Glencore’s West Wallsend coal mine is set to hinder production at the site.

A Glencore spokesperson confirmed the fall of the panel last week.

“Glencore can confirm that production at its West Wallsend underground mine has been halted due to geological issues experienced on the current longwall operation (Longwall 46) last week,” the spokesperson told Australian Mining.

One worker on site told the Newcastle Herald that around 200 metres of the longwall’s face had collapsed, burying machinery.

The incident is the latest blow for workers at the site, after Glencore’s decision to cease operations at the site next year.

Glencore said a number of options to extend the mine’s life had been considered, but that the current coal market did not support keeping the mine open.

 The closure will occur some months earlier than originally scheduled, following Glencore’s decision not to mine an approved longwall block (Longwall 47) beneath cliff lines, terraces and steeper sections of the Sugarloaf State Conservation Area (SSCA).

It is unknown how the longwall collapse will affect workers, and when they will begin operating the site again.

“We are investigating a number of options to resume operations as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said, adding “it is expected that production could be affected for some time.”

According to the Newcastle Herald, some workers had been asked to take involuntary leave during the downtime, however this was denied by Glencore.

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