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Anglo American has evacuated its personnel from the Moranbah North coal mine in Queensland, Australia, amid rising gas levels underground.

The Moranbah North mine is an underground longwall that produces hard coking coal. It is located in the northern part of the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland, 16km north of Moranbah.

The company removed its workforce at the underground coal mine on 20 February 2021 as a safety precaution.

Anglo American said the rise in gas levels was observed in the goaf, an area behind the longwall area that caves in behind the face post-mining.

The increased gas levels indicated an issue with coal heating and an overpressure event, which is a change in ventilation on the face.

Anglo American said that there is no evidence that an explosion occurred.

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A spokesperson for the company said: “At the time of the incident, we had been mining through some particularly challenging geology and every precaution was being taken.

“The conclusions from the expert review of the incident will inform a comprehensive risk assessment prior to re-entry, which will require regulatory approval.

“The safety of our workforce remains our priority and we are keeping them closely informed.”

The company has deployed internal and external experts to evaluate multiple information sources to more accurately determine the cause of the incident.

Anglo American operates the mine with an 88% stake. It other partners include Nippon Steel (5%), Mitsui Coal (4.75%), NS Resources (1.25%), Shinsho Australia (0.5%), and JFE Mineral (0.5%).

Last year, Anglo American unveiled plans to achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by 2040, with eight of its assets to reach that goal by 2030.