Xstrata to re-open Blakefield South coal mine

Xstrata is set to resume operations at its Blakefield South coal mine after it shut down the underground mine due to a fire last year.

The mine initially saw an ignition underground in January 2011.

At the time union official said the blaze was the result of an explosion or ignition of methane,

District chief inspector Keith Shaw said levels of combustible gases are still coming from the fire are and it took a number of days before the blaze was extinguished. 

"It was an ignition of methane but until we get in there to have a closer look the rest of it is conjecture,” he said at the time.

Production ceased completely at the $350 million mine, with Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union district vice president, Greg Sharp saying that there were about 50 men underground when the fire started who were “incredibly lucky to get out as they did.”

In March that year Mine Rescue Services attempted to re-open the mine; however it soon failed, as had several previous attempts.

However Xstrata Coal say that recent efforts will now see the Hunter Valley mine re-opened and returning to full production by mid-July, the ABC reports.

The miner has recalled workers from its other nearby operations, and training new staff.

Blakefield South is an underground longwall mine that was designed to replace production from Xstrata's Beltana coal mine.

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