The longwall face at North Goonyella in central Queensland is running again since being stopped by a fall in mid-December. In the first week of operations 105,000 tonnes of longwall coal were cut (to the end of January).
Meanwhile, three experienced English longwall "face bosses" have recently arrived on site with the express aim of coaching the longwall team at North Goonyella. The system of face bosses is used extensively in the UK and the USA but not widely practiced in Australian coal mines.
North Goonyella's general manager, Brian Nicholls, said he hoped the imports, who will work with each shift on 1 North, would help introduce a different culture at the mine. High standards and defined operating procedures, underlain by a sense of urgency, will be the main objectives the "face bosses" will focus on.
"There is not enough of a sense of urgency in the Australian context," Nicholls said. "We have to bear in mind that every time a longwall stops it could cost a company in excess of 2000 tonnes per hour. Multiply this by the revenue you get and it could equate to upwards of $1 million a day. People do not realise this and it reflects in the poor utilisation of the equipment in Australia."
The three contractors (in Australia on a three-month work visa) — Terry Davidson, Gary Moulds and Billy Garnham — have extensive experience as face bosses in the UK. Nicholls said they were accustomed to working with thick seams and thick strata as well as achieving high equipment utilisation. The UK triumvirate is also working with experienced local contractor Bob Robson.
Face crews and deputies at North Goonyella are positive about the new approach to face management, according to Nicholls.