Yancoal stands down 205 employees at Austar coal mine

Yancoal hopes to redeploy the majority of its workforce at the Austar coal mine after starting a process to halt operations at the New South Wales site.

The move to stand down workers follows a NSW Resources Regulator order to suspend longwall activities at the mine, which has 205 employees.

Yancoal has this year received two prohibition notices from the regulator. A coal burst took place at the mine in May, causing significant damage to the longwall shearer.

The burst, which saw approximately 60 tonnes (t) of coal erupt from the longwall face, caused zero injuries. It occurred only nine months after the affected mining area received a mining approval.

Two months earlier, Yancoal was also suspended from undertaking any longwall cutting due to a coal burst event on March 16.

The mine then regained the permission to undertake longwall cutting, under strict guidelines to minimise the risk of a coal burst event.

Yancoal is currently waiting for an outcome to its appeal for an external merits review to the Industrial Relations Commission to resume its Austar mine operation.

“We have worked to redeploy the majority of the Austar workforce to the Ashton, Abel and Moolarben underground mines in the interests of providing continued employment for our people,” Yancoal Australia chief executive Reinhold Schmidt said.

“Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity.”

In 2017, Yancoal produced 2Mt of coal at the Austar mine, including 1.9Mt of saleable output.

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