Mining is continuing but the rate of coal extraction is slower than planned, the company said. While the September quarter production will be about two-thirds of the 280,000 tonne budget, production and stock is sufficient to meet customer requirements.
Early indications are that a predicted zone of poor ground conditions impacted on the operation about one month earlier than scheduled. Its effect has been exacerbated by ground stresses normally experienced at the commencement of any longwall panel. At Southland such stress typically occurs until the longwall production unit has advanced about 220 metres along the panel and it has to date advanced some 130 metres along new longwall panel SL3.
“Southland Coal management and the contract-operator Thiess are working together to determine the geotechnical and other contributions to current longwall-face instability and to re-establish full production,” Gympie said.
“It is anticipated that production will return to budget levels in the next quarter as a range of operational refinements are implemented and the longwall emerges from the current zone.”
The estimated financial impact of this event is accommodated within budgeted contingency provisions. Various measures are being examined to effect a catch-up with budgeted production of about 1.5 million tonnes for the full 2002-03 year.