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North Goonyella still showing elevated CO

north goonyella co concerns
CO levels in some parts of the North Goonyella mine remain elevated

In its’ latest update to industry and stakeholders, Peabody has confirmed that the North Goonyella mine is still showing elevated Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels at some measurement points. Peabody says that the levels are reduced from the peak concentration encountered at height of the mine fire but remain ‘elevated from targeted standards.’

The North Goonyella mine has been the subject of controversy across the underground coal industry since the mine caught fire in late September 2018. The actual cause of the fire still remains a state secret, with an on-going investigation being conducted by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate since November 2018.

In the interim, Peabody (to its’ credit) has provided regular updates to market and industry stakeholders on a weekly basis. This week Peabody indicated that:

  • The team has installed a series of Rocsil plugs at 19-20 cut-through area to serve as temporary control devices.
  • The team is advancing a multi-zone re-ventilation to facilitate phased re-entry as well as manage CO levels that are well reduced from peak levels but elevated from targeted standards.
  • The multiple zones have been established through the use of Rocsil plugs across two sections of the main corridors as temporary ventilation control devices. Some additional plugs may be required as we advance re-ventilation efforts.
  • Peabody says this is designed to allow the company to manage and control airflow and monitor any change in gas readings throughout these zones.
  • A number of ventilation fans are being overhauled offsite in preparation for re-ventilation.
  • Pumping activities are continuing in response to ongoing accumulation of water in parts of the mine.
  • The team, in consultation with the Queensland Mines Inspectorate, third-party experts and the North Goonyella workforce, is evaluating appropriate safety protocols to manage the removal of pockets of combusted residue that have accumulated in certain areas of the mine surface.
  • The company intends to provide an update on North Goonyella plans at its earnings call on Feb 6.

Four months ago AMSJ was advised that workers were reportedly stood down as early as 1st September citing elevated methane levels and potential heating as a cause for concern not to have workers underground.

When the Australian Financial Review contacted the site on the 18th September they were told “there had been issues but it was nothing like as serious as proposed and that a very active and capable management team was well into the process of successful mitigation of the heating and gas problems. The strategy signed off by the Mines Inspectorate, involved, among other things, the introduction of seven pumping units that were injecting nitrogen into the coal mine in an attempt to force gas from the mine and rob it of the oxygen that might promote a fire.

Looking back four months, there was clearly a litany of errors in the management of the fire and the Lessons Learned may well go down in the annals of Queensland mining history.

Peabody’s Share Price has climbed from in 52 week low in late December and has steadily climbed with market analysts supporting its’ future potential earnings. The current price today is hovering around $34.50.

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AMSJ April 2022