Yancoal to halt production at Austar coal mine amid safety dispute

10 July 2018 (Last Updated July 10th, 2018 12:27)

Australian miner Yancoal announced that it would begin to halt production at the Austar coking coal mine in New South Wales until its dispute with the state regulator is resolved.

Australian miner Yancoal announced that it would begin to halt production at the Austar coking coal mine in New South Wales until its dispute with the state regulator is resolved.

The company will begin to stand down the mine’s 205 employees and redeploy most of them to its other underground mines.

The miner has been issued two notices by the regulatory authority that banned all underground longwall activity at the Hunter Valley mine following a coal burst, during which tonnes of coal exploded and caused damage to the longwall shearer.

During the coal burst, no workers were injured; however, other similar events followed in which one employee was reportedly treated for a hand injury after 50t of coal exploded from longwall face.

“Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity.”

Celebrating its centenary in 2016, Austar mine is one of the oldest coal mines in the state.

In May, Yancoal was advised that the prohibition order will continue to be in place until a detailed geotechnical assessment was completed and the regulatory authority was satisfied.

Yancoal CEO Reinhold Schmidt said: “We have worked to redeploy the majority of the Austar workforce to the Ashton, Abel and Moolarben underground mines in the interests of providing continued employment for our people.

“Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity.”

In 2017, the mine produced 2Mt of coal, including 1.9Mt of saleable production.

In 2014,  two employees died following an underground wall collapse at the same mine.

These employees were working along with five others approximately 500m under the surface and 10km from the mine’s entry point when a longwall collapsed.