New tech centre to drive safer mining at Grosvenor
A NEW technology centre will drill down on coal mining data to transform the way the Grosvenor Mine operates ahead of its 2021 restart.
The first priority for the new Met Coal Analytics Centre, to be based in Anglo American’s Brisbane office, will be in gas and ventilation management in underground operations.
The move follows a horror methane gas blast on May 6 that injured five miners, landing them all in hospital with serious burns.
There have been further incidents of increased gas levels since the blast, resulting in Anglo ceasing all longwall mining activity until miners could safely return.
Anglo metallurgical coal business CEO Tyler Mitchelson said the company was continuing to prioritise safety in its planning processes for reopening Grosvenor Mine in the second half of 2021.
But he said the company was undertaking broader work across the business to expedite safety-enhancing technical, engineering and data science solutions.
Mr Mitchelson said the Met Coal Analytics Centre, announced today, would bring together operational, engineering and data science experts to look at major challenges and opportunities for the future of the company’s mines.
“As the largest underground miner in Australia, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our own data and technology to transform the way we analyse data to drive safer operations, better decisions and achieve mining excellence,” he said.
“The first priority for this centre will be in underground operations gas and ventilation management.
“We will immediately commence a global scan of data science and technical options to improve predictive modelling in this area, as well as improvements in gas drainage.
“While investigations are still under way, we are continuing to improve controls across our mines, as information becomes available.
“This work includes industry-leading work on piloting the use of pressure sensors to cut power to the longwall, and the bolstering of our plans for remote operation in our underground mines.
“Our target is to be fully remote capable this year, and we have made strong progress with the technology we have in place at our Moranbah North Mine in recent weeks.
“Removing people from potential harm is the best way to improve safety in underground mining.
“We are seeing positive early results from laboratory testing of the pressure sensors as the pilot study progresses.
“While pressure sensors are already in use, it is new technology to integrate them with equipment to remove power from the longwall face if a significant overpressure event occurs.”
Anglo has begun a series of workforce briefings at Grosvenor Mine and its other Queensland operations to further update crews on plans to improve safety and controls.
Mr Mitchelson said the company was continuing to work through a detailed technical road map to safely restart longwall mining at Grosvenor in the second half of next year.
“Throughout this process, we have taken a step-by-step approach to respond to the May 6 incident, including detailed risk assessment processes with internal and external experts,” he said.
“The next step for us will be to safely re-enter the mine, to enable the completion of permanent seals and re-establishing mine integrity.
“Safety comes first, and we’re taking the time to ensure mining does not restart until we know it’s safe to do so.
“We will ensure that relevant learnings, including from the investigations and the inquiry which are under way, are captured and actioned within our business.
“We are implementing an enhanced Learning from Incidents process to our workforce, that will ensure relevant learning opportunities from all incidents are automatically distributed across our mine sites and accessible to our workforce.
“Recognising the importance of safety in bonus structures, we have further announced a review of the existing structures at our sites with input from our workforce, to look at how we can focus on leading indicators, in line with Anglo American’s global Elimination of Fatalities program.”
Mr Mitchelson said the company was continuing to support those injured in the May 6 incident and the first responders from Grosvenor Mine.
All five miners have now been released from hospital and are recovering through continued medical treatment.