Anglo American has announced plans to safely restart operations at Grosvenor in the second half of 2021. Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Business CEO Tyler Mitchelson reiterated that safety is the priority and the company was taking the time to ensure the safe restart of operations at Grosvenor, assessing all technology options.

“We have made the decision to permanently seal the part of the longwall panel where the methane ignition incident occurred in May,” he said. “Permanent sealing provides the greatest level of safety, and will help facilitate works to prepare Grosvenor mine for a safe restart of operations, which is likely to be in the second half of 2021.”

Permanently sealing the longwall area continues to be the company’s step-by-step approach to working through the Grosvenor incident, Mitchelson said, with safety as the no. 1 priority.

“Over the past two weeks, we have installed three temporary seals in the longwall area, which has allowed us to isolate the area of the mine where heating occurred and stabilize the environment prior to the permanent sealing work commencing,” he added.

The company is in the process of developing a roadmap to restart the mine next year, including a detailed risk assessment process involving internal and external experts.

“New longwall equipment will be purchased, providing us with the opportunity to assess the best available technology to further expedite our automation and technology journey at Grosvenor,” Mitchelson said.

The company is reviewing controls to prevent a methane ignition occurring again. The pilot study to assess the use of pressure sensors to cut power to the longwall at Moranbah North is under way and all technology options will be reviewed to improve the controls at Grosvenor.

“We have continued to support our workforce since the methane ignition occurred 12 weeks ago,” Mitchelson said. “As we develop our technical roadmap to restarting longwall mining next year, we will work through the resourcing impacts and will be engaging further with our workforce over coming weeks.”

Surface activities will continue and underground development work will resume when it is safe to do so, the company said.

Five miners were seriously injured on May 6 when a possible gas ignition occurred at the mine near Moranbah, Australia.

“Our injured colleagues are continuing their medical treatment on the road to recovery and we continue to offer support to our colleagues and their families,” Mitchelson said.