Mineworkers have reported that the Anglo American Grosvenor underground mine has been evacuated due to a spontaneous combustion event.
In a statement released today, an Anglo spokesperson said that “with the cessation of longwall mining activity after the methane ignition incident on 6 May, we have been closely monitoring various gas levels to ensure the ongoing safety and integrity of the mine.”
The company said that the suspension of longwall mining over time elevates the risk of spontaneous combustion, due to the oxidation of the coal in the longwall goaf environment.
The company said that during normal longwall mining operations, this risk is very low.
“Over the past few days, we have seen levels of carbon monoxide and other gasses start to rise, such that we enacted our Trigger Action Response Plan (TARP) for spontaneous combustion risk.”
“We made a precautionary decision to restrict people from entering the underground for safety reasons on Saturday (well before the removal would have been triggered). These crews were undertaking essential work to ensure the ongoing integrity and safety of the mine. All personnel on-site have been provided with updated information on the mine conditions and the response steps underway.”
“The current situation is that we are undertaking a range of measures to address spontaneous combustion risk, including the addition of inert gases and changes to the ventilation network. As an additional precaution, we have established an exclusion zone around the entry of the mine. No crews will return underground until the underground environment has been proven to be stable.” the spokesperson said.
The company has confirmed that an investigation into the methane ignition incident is still underway and that Anglo American has committed mining will not recommence until it is safe to do so.
CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said: “We are currently still investigating the cause of the methane ignition at Grosvenor Mine, and in the meantime, our team is monitoring elevated risks due to the cessation of the longwall for the past month.
“Consistent with our risk management protocols, we made the early decision to fully restrict access to the mine when levels of certain gasses started to rise. Over the past couple of days, we commenced a range of measures to stabilise the area.
“Once gas levels are proven to be stable, work will continue to ensure the ongoing safety and integrity of the mine.
“In the meantime, we will continue to keep our workforce closely updated.”
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