Coal burst leads to Austar suspension

THE New South Wales Resources Regulator has prohibited all underground longwall production activities at Yancoal’s Austar coal mine in the Hunter Valley.
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Underground at the Yancoal's Austar mine in NSW.

The prohibition notice follows another significant coal burst event, which occurred at 5:20am on May 17.


While no workers were injured, the coal burst reportedly caused significant damage to the longwall shearer.


The burst saw an estimated 60 tonnes of coal ejected from the longwall face, approximately 2t of which landed in the walkway at the front of the powered roof supports.


A spokesman for Yancoal told Australia's Mining Monthly: "Appropriate mitigation strategies were in place at the time of the incident and we can confirm no-one was injured. An investigation is currently underway."


The regulator had previously prohibited cutting at the longwall as a result of a coal burst event on March 16 this year.


The mine recently gained permission to undertake controlled cutting under strict conditions to test additional controls to mitigate a coal burst risk, which included the maintenance of a 50m exclusion zone for workers.


This exclusion zone was critical in ensuring no workers were exposed to risk as a result of the most recent event.


"The prohibition notice will remain in place until a detailed geotechnical assessment is carried out, and the mine operator can satisfy the regulator that comprehensive risk controls can be implemented to protect workers against the threat of further and escalated outburst events," the regulator said.


Australia's Mining Monthly reported yesterday that multiple underground and open cut coal mines have been notifying the regulator of ongoing spontaneous combustion incidents.