Times a�changing at Tahmoor

Centennial’s takeover of Austral Coal’s Tahmoor colliery has heralded a number of operational changes at the struggling mine, which is already reaping benefits, according to Centennial.

Angie Tomlinson

Centennial acquired the New South Wales Tahmoor operation from Austral in April, and within a week of gaining control of the mine announced a number of changes, including closing Austral Coal's head office and cutting insurance fees, saving a total $A6 million.

Centennial swiftly made board and management changes and restructured the mine’s management system, installing a new mine manager, technical services manager, engineering manager and commercial manager. Line-managers and supervisors were afforded accountability and responsibility for their individual process areas.

In its latest activities report Centennial the mine had produced 531,000 ROM tonnes in the June quarter and 1.12Mt in the six months to June. Development progress for the quarter was 3866m.

Second quarter results were down on the previous quarter, which Centennial attributed to ventilation issues – issues the company said had now been put to rest.

“From mid-March (before Centennial took operational control), Tahmoor’s production was affected by gas outages due to poor ventilation causing frequent machine shutdowns and preventing coal production,” Centennial said.

“Immediately following Centennial taking control of the mine, a comprehensive ventilation survey was undertaken to identify the airflow restrictions impacting production. As a result, short-term changes to the mine’s ventilation system were implemented, immediately improving air flow along the longwall face and substantially reducing downtime associated with gas outages.”

Centennial plans to make longer-term changes to the ventilation, including the installation of a larger capacity mine fan, already worked into the company’s capital budgeting.

Centennial has also introduced a roster change from a four shift per day seven-hour roster to a three shift per day eight-hour system. Centennial said the new system was working, with “initial results showing an encouraging improvement in production levels and development rates”

The new roster and management changes have resulted in the loss of 50 jobs. “Most of these employees were on short-term employment contracts with Tahmoor following transfer from Roche Mining at the conclusion of its mining contract associated with the development of Tahmoor North,” the company said.

Centennial said the first Tahmoor North panel was nearing completion, with less than 50m remaining at the end of June, the panel now undergoing meshing and bolting in preparation for a longwall move.

Extraction from panel 23 is expected to commence at the end of August. Centennial said the new block would be shorter than future blocks and contained a geological intrusion (a sill) that must be “side-stepped”. The company expects to complete three longwall moves over the next 12 months.