Anglo American battles underground fire at Australian coal mine

Workers at Grosvenor mine (Credit: Anglo American)

Anglo American said on Sunday it was battling an underground fire at its Grosvenor metallurgical coal mine in Australia’s Queensland state after a blaze ignited there on Saturday.

The mine site is in the coal mining town of Moranbah, located approximately 1,000 km (621 miles) north of state capital Brisbane. It is the same mine where an explosion in May 2020 critically injured five workers.

“We are continuing to manage a combustion event underground at Grosvenor Mine, following a localized ignition at the longwall on Saturday,” Anglo American said on Facebook on Sunday.

“Our priority is to safely extinguish the underground fire, which emergency response teams are managing from the surface.”

The site was closed, with only essential emergency services team members in attendance, it said in an earlier Facebook post.

Anglo American said work had started to temporarily seal the mine from the surface, which was a “critical step” in stopping smoke from the fire impacting residents in the town of 9,425 people.

“Due to the highly complex and evolving nature of this event, this will take time as we need to ensure the safety of all emergency teams undertaking this work,” the company said.

All mine workers were safely evacuated after the fire ignited.

A spokesperson for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said the agency was not at the incident, which was being handled by the mine.

Queensland Mines Minister Scott Stewart said there would be a “full and thorough investigation” into the fire, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported on Sunday.

The Grosvenor mine produced 2.797 million tons of metallurgical coal in 2023, making up 17% of Anglo American’s coal output, according to its annual report. The company is the world’s third largest exporter of metallurgical coal.

At the mine, the company uses the longwall mining method, a method used to extract long panels of coal in a single slice.

(By Sam McKeith; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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