After closing due to a fire in 2018, North Goonyella coking coal mine will reopen in early 2024.
Owner Peabody Energy, a US based coal company, will spend more than $760 million to bring the Bowen Basin mine back into operation.
First coal will be extracted in early 2024 during the construction of underground roadways, with longwall mining targeted for 2026.
Peabody has also acquired a nearby coal deposit, which is expected to extend the mine’s life by roughly 20 years.
In September 2018, rising methane levels within the underground mine halted operations. Mine officials and safety regulators worked for weeks to stabilise gas levels, but efforts were unsuccessful. The mine subsequently caught fire, causing significant damage and shuttering the mine for five years.
In an investigation, the Queensland Mines Inspectorate (now Resources Safety and Health Queensland) made the following observations:
- Review of the mine’s records suggest that gas trends were not given sufficient consideration
- Some key reports relating to the mine’s ventilation plan, gas alarm system and explosion risk zone controls do not appear to have been reviewed or countersigned by key personnel, as required under the mine’s safety and health management system.
- There is evidence that some boreholes located deep within the 9N goaf region were insufficiently sealed, allowing ingress of oxygen into active goaves, with the potential to escalate conditions for spontaneous combustion
- There is evidence to suggest that the gas drainage system was being operated to focus on management of methane instead of the potential spontaneous heating event that was occurring underground
- There is evidence to suggest the mine did not follow its own procedures relating to major ventilation changes.
The incident led to the cancellation of the statutory certificates of competency for two former officials at North Goonyella.