Austar to stand down workers

YANCOAL is standing down employees at its troubled Austar underground coal mine in New South Wales as it awaits the outcome of legal proceedings over two prohibition notices by the Resources Regulator following a coal burst incident in May.
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Austar employs 205 people. In 2017, the mine achieved total run-of-mine coal production of 2 million tonnes and saleable coal production of 1.9Mt.
Yancoal Australia CEO Reinhold Schmidt said the company would, where possible, redeploy the majority to other Yancoal-owned underground operations.
"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," he said.
"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."
Austar will retain skeleton crews to maintain the operation in accordance with compliance requirements.
The company said that because the matter was the subject of legal proceedings, an estimated date for a return to production was unavailable.
While no workers were injured, the coal burst in May reportedly caused significant damage to the longwall shearer.
The burst resulted in an estimated 60t of coal being ejected from the longwall face, approximately 2t of which landed in the walkway at the front of the powered roof supports.
A Yancoal spokesman 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.