Tag Archives: Grosvenor

Anglo American Australia invests in gas, spontaneous combustion management research

Anglo American Australia says it is committing another A$5 million ($3.8 million) towards improving safety at its underground coal mines in the country following the release of recommendations from the Board of Inquiry’s report into an incident that occurred at its Grosvenor mine in May 2020.

Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said the company is already acting on the recommendations of the report, referencing A$60 million of investment in safety initiatives the company has carried out over the last year.

The latest A$5 million investment will fund underground mining research, in partnership with industry research and technology partners, to improve the industry’s knowledge in certain technical areas, Mitchelson said.

“We have been clear from the outset that the incident on 6 May, 2020, in which five of our colleagues were badly injured was unacceptable,” he said. “The safety of our workforce is always our first priority.”

In the last year, Anglo has put in place a range of measures to address issues that have come to light through detailed investigations and evidence before the Board of Inquiry. Over this period, it has already committed more than A$60 million in technology pilots, additional gas drainage infrastructure, expert reviews and further improvements to a range of processes and controls.

Mitchelson said: “Underground coal mining, particularly in the area where Grosvenor Mine is located, is complex with many interacting considerations and, as the board has identified, further research into certain technical areas such as gas and spontaneous combustion management would benefit the industry. We will be helping to advance knowledge in these areas through our further A$5 million funding commitment.

“The Board of Inquiry’s reports have made a number of recommendations, and we are confident we have already addressed, or will address, these ahead of the restart of longwall mining at Grosvenor Mine later this year.”

Longwall mining operations at Moranbah North Mine safely restarted earlier this month, in line with regulatory approvals, with production expected to ramp up over coming weeks.

Anglo American’s Operating Model, the company’s primary operational management system, is currently being updated at Grosvenor and, together with a range of other measures such as the use of data science, will ensure the company has the very latest in systems thinking, design and technology to ensure operational stability and control, and ultimately safe production, he added.

“The use of automation and remote operation presents us with the single biggest opportunity to remove people from high-risk areas and we are fast-tracking this work across our operations, including commissioning ground-breaking research into automation in development mining with CSIRO,” Mitchelson said.

This work will see the two companies undertake a world-first trial of technology to support automation in the roadway development phase of underground coal mining.

On top of this, Anglo American Australia has commenced a pilot study at Moranbah North to assess the use of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face. Initial laboratory testing has been successfully completed and pilot hardware has been installed at Moranbah North Mine, it said. Full-scale hardware and processing systems will be installed at Grosvenor ahead of a restart of operations.

“A further layer of quality control has already been introduced for the supply of Intrinsically Safe underground mining equipment,” the company said.

Anglo American Australia has also invested in data and strata capabilities to change the way it mines, with its newly-established Met Coal Analytics Centre already operationalising gas and strata management analytics to predictive capabilities, with work under way to support its mines.

The company already has gas management improvement measures underway, with A$1.5 billion allocated for gas management over five years across the company’s underground mines. It has also completed a project to increase gas drainage capacity at Grosvenor Mine and introduced enhanced gas management reporting across the business.

Last year, Anglo announced that, to support alignment with Queensland statutory reporting, any gas exceedances of above 2.5% in its underground mines will now be treated as Anglo American HPIs as a High Potential Incident in accordance with the company’s global risk management processes.

Anglo American to test pressure sensor tech following Grosvenor methane ignition incident

A trial of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face and the expedition of longwall automation are two of the areas Anglo American is hoping will improve safety at its underground coal mines in Australia, following a methane ignition incident that occurred at its Grosvenor mine, in Queensland, on May 6.

The company began to brief its Queensland-based workforce on the progress of its expert investigation into the methane ignition last week, with Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, saying the company’s focus continues to be on providing ongoing support for the five personnel injured during the incident, four of whom have now been released from hospital, while the fifth remains in a stable condition.

While investigations were progressing and may take some time to formally conclude, Mitchelson said the company would continue to review controls in place across its underground mines as any technical or other findings become available from the investigations.

“We know from our expert analysis that there was a significant and unusual overpressure event on May 6, where a large amount of methane was released into the longwall area, and, seconds later, a brief ignition occurred,” he said. “At this stage, the ignition source has not been conclusively determined and testing continues.

“We also know that in the hours leading up to the incident, there were no non-compliant methane readings in the longwall area.”

Since 2016, the company has invested around A$230 million ($161 million) on gas drainage and gas management activities at the Grosvenor Mine, according to Mitchelson.

“Despite this investment, and extensive controls in place to prevent an underground ignition of methane, we need to further improve our controls to respond to the specific combination of factors of an unusual and large overpressure event in the vicinity of the longwall with a potential ignition source,” he said.

“By drawing on technical learnings and information as it becomes available from the investigations, we have begun a review of our site methane management controls, which includes assessing additional technology options and applying any further improvements across our underground mines.”

As a first step, the company is beginning a pilot study at its Moranbah North mine to assess the use of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face as an additional control if a significant overpressure event occurs, he said.

“Whilst pressure sensors are already in use today, across the industry they have not been integrated for this particular purpose,” Mitchelson explained. “Learnings from the pilot will be incorporated across our underground mines and shared with industry.”

Mitchelson said the company has already invested “considerably” in progressing the automation of its longwall equipment, and “expediting this work will also be part of the solution to reducing risks in underground mining”.

Among more recent elements of longwall automation the company has pursued is the ability to operate its longwall shear from an above-ground remote operating centre at the Grosvenor mine.

The company added: “As the largest underground coal miner in Queensland, Anglo American has been at the forefront of technical innovation and has invested significantly in technology to improve safety in its mines, including additional methane detection equipment above and beyond regulatory requirements, digitisation to improve underground communication, and automation of equipment.

“We will continue to prioritise this work.”

Mitchelson said it was unacceptable five personnel were seriously injured on May 6 and that the company would ensure all relevant learnings from investigations underway and the Board of Inquiry are incorporated across its business.

“We continue to support our injured colleagues and their families as they continue their recovery,” he said.

He reiterated that safety comes first, and mining would not resume until it was safe to do so.

While mining activities have been suspended, the Grosvenor workforce has continued to be supported on full pay since the incident to enable the company to work through its future plans, step by step.

Mastermyne gets three more years at Moranbah North, Grosvenor

Mastermyne Group has had its Moranbah Region Umbrella contract with Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal division renewed for a three-year term, it said.

The contract extends the existing contract at Moranbah North and Grosvenor mines, in Queensland, Australia, and commences from November 15.

Mastermyne said the pact includes an option to extend for an additional two years at Anglo American’s discretion, with work under this contract estimated to contribute revenues of around A$250-$300 million ($170-204 million) over the three-year term.

The scope of work includes design, supply and installation, recovery and maintenance of ventilation structures and devices; installation of secondary support; outbye support and maintenance activities; conveyor belt installations and recovery; and development services.

Moranbah North is an underground longwall coking coal mine that began operating in 1998, while Grosvenor, also a longwall coking coal mine, produced its first longwall coal in May 2016.
Mastermyne said the revenue and earnings from the contract extension have been included in the company’s current 2020 financial year guidance.

Mastermyne CEO, Tony Caruso, said: “The company is very pleased to see the continuation of this long-term relationship, built with Anglo American over the past 17 years. Moranbah North and Grosvenor mines supply high-grade metallurgical coal to the international market for steel production, and we are pleased to support their successful operation.”

Anglo American takes to tablets at Australia UG coal mines

Anglo American says it has launched Australia’s first electronic tablet device certified for use in underground coal mines at its Moranbah North mine, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland.

The introduction of these tables represents a major step forward in the company’s aims to digitise its operations, according to Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Australian business.

He added that digitisation was a key part of the company’s FutureSmart Mining™ approach, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major challenges.

While standard tablets have been used underground at many mines around the world for at least a few years, it is the presence of potential explosive gas mixtures in some underground operational environments – coal, in particular – that inhibits any device being taken below ground that does not meeting ‘intrinsically safe’ regulatory approval. This is due to the potential risk of ignition from energy sources within such devices (eg standard tablets and smart phones).

Mitchelson said: “Following the successful launch at Moranbah North mine, we are now moving towards rapid deployment across all our underground sites including our newly-approved Aquila mine, which will be developed as one of the most technologically advanced underground mines in the world.

“The tablets capture and share real time production, safety and environmental monitoring information with operators, ensuring critical information is readily available to key personnel and removing the need for paper records.”

They also provide direct access to the company’s Safety Health Management System and can be used as a portable video communication device (via Skype) to instantly access personnel working at the surface level, according to Mitchelson. “This will accelerate trouble-shooting and can also be used as a live video link in case of emergencies.”

He added: “Any delays or challenges can be reported and addressed on-the-spot to reduce lost production time, instead of relying on traditional communication methods such as phone calls, underground travel or hard copy reports being submitted and reviewed at the end of a 12-hour shift.”

The tablets are already enabling improved communication and information sharing underground, Mitchelson said. This should ultimately lead to safer, more productive mining, he added.

The introduction of underground tablets followed significant work towards automating longwall operations and digitising the company’s mines, according to Mitchelson, with Anglo American recently completing its first pilot longwall shear from an above-ground remote operating centre at the Grosvenor mine.

The device was developed in collaboration with product manufacturer, Bartec, and tested to achieve certification with the Queensland Government’s Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station, the company said.

Executive Head of Underground Operations in Australia, Glen Britton, said implementation of the tablets followed a successful pilot earlier this year at Moranbah North mine, which was already receiving positive feedback from operators.

“Each week at Moranbah North mine, around 400 statutory reports and 2,500 maintenance work orders are generated. The team there aims to be paperless within two years, and the introduction of these tablets will enable us to remove underground paperwork and transition to electronic storage of statutory and production reports,” Britton said.

“Over the last five years, we have invested considerable resources in the development of this technology, to ensure the product was fit-for-purpose. We sought out a manufacturing partner to help create a new technical solution for managing our data, undertook an extensive certification process and improved underground Wi-Fi capabilities at the mine.”

Mitchell’s UIS drilling contract extended by Anglo American

Mitchell Services has won a contract extension from Anglo American that will see it continue underground coal drilling and gas drainage services at the miner’s Grosvenor and Moranbah North coal mines, in Queensland, Australia.

The variation to the ASX-listed company’s Underground In-Seam (UIS) drilling contract with Anglo American will see Mitchell provide up to six UIS rigs and provide specialist underground services at the sites.

It also resulted in the extension of the contract expiry date to December 31, 2021 with a further two-year extension option available.

Mitchell said: “Whilst the company anticipates a significant long term revenue and EBITDA benefit as a result of this extension and scope increase, the company notes that, given the timing of the variation, the expected start date of the additional rigs and the anticipated level of associated ramp up, the variation is not likely to have a material impact on the recently provided financial year 2019 revenue and EBITDA guidance numbers of A$110-$120 million ($77-84 million) and A$21-$23 million, respectively.”