Anglo American shuts down Queensland mine after underground fire

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Anglo American has closed an underground coal mine in central Queensland after a fire broke out over the weekend.

The company reported that the fire occurred at the Grosvenor metallurgical coal mine near Moranbah in the Bowen Basin coal mining province of central Queensland. This is the same mine where an explosion in May 2020 critically injured five workers and is one of the five mines the company plans to sell off in response to BHP's failed takeover attempt in April and May.

BHP intended to retain these mines to strengthen its presence in the Bowen Basin and support its position as half-owner of BMA, the world’s largest met coal exporter.

"We are currently managing a combustion event underground at Grosvenor Mine, following a localized ignition at the longwall on Saturday," Anglo American said on Facebook on Sunday.

"Our priority is to safely extinguish the underground fire, which emergency response teams are handling from the surface.”

The fire began early Saturday morning when methane gas ignited on the longwall coalface. All mine workers were safely evacuated after the fire ignited, and efforts are underway to temporarily seal off the mine from the surface to minimize smoke affecting Moranbah and its residents.

Members of the Queensland Mines Rescue Team worked through Sunday night, pumping nitrogen into the mine to deprive the fire of oxygen. This process could take days or even weeks.

"Due to the highly complex and evolving nature of this event, this will take time as we need to ensure the safety of all emergency teams undertaking this work," the company stated.

In 2023, the Grosvenor mine produced 2.8 million tons of metallurgical coal, constituting 17% of Anglo American's coal output, most of which originates from its Queensland mines.

Anglo American ranks as the world's third-largest exporter of metallurgical coal.

The Grosvenor mine employs the longwall mining method, extracting long panels of coal in a single slice.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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