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Grosvenor mine set to be out of action until the second half

Business

The troubled Grosvenor coal mine won’t restart operations until the second half of the year, while Moranbah North could be back in two to three weeks, according to its owner Anglo American.

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Despite the issues with its Queensland mines, which carved $US177 million ($A229 million) from its earnings in the second half of 2020, Anglo’s chief executive Mark Cutifani said it was worth the effort.

The issues included an explosion at the Grosvenor on May 6 last year which badly burned five workers and forced a government-ordered independent ­inquiry that is still going.

Adding to the problem, Anglo’s Mornabah North was also hit with methane issues recently and was shut down temporarily.

Anglo’s global chief executive Mark Cutifani admitted the company has had its challenges including the current longwall panel at Moranbah where high carbon monoxide gas readings were recorded in the waste areas.

“Carbon monoxide is a result of latent heating in the goaf area. As per our protocols, we withdrew the workforce and we commenced monitoring the gas from the goaf since that time. And by the end of the shift, the levels had actually returned to normal.

“Now, we think that might have been the result of a goaf fall, but we’re taking extra precautions; we’re pumping nitrogen in to make sure that we don’t have any further gas levels.

“We’d expect to return to operations in the next two to three weeks. We are working with the Inspectorate in Queensland, to make sure we’ve got all the angles covered.

“So, watching it carefully but I think the guys have done a good job in handling it and certainly satisfied that all the issues were covered.

“On Grosvenor, the key issue for us is the timing of the restart and the commissioning of the new longwall.

“We expect to restart sometime in the second half of the year, but we don’t want to pre-empt the inquiry or its findings. We will be both patient and cautious in our approach.’’

Cutifani said coking coal was a “great business’’.

“It’ll probably take us the best part of this year with the Grosvenor restart and Moranbah.

“It is worth the effort, certainly the returns are there. We’ve got a great team, probably the leading team I think in Australia in the coal industry.

“So yes, we’re still there, we’re going to stick with it. We’re going to stick with the plan. “They’ve done a good job. It has great earnings potential, and we’ve posted a pretty good set of results without much from coal.’’

Cutifani said there was an expectation that  green steel production would make up about 50 per cent of the world’s steel supply by 2040.

“In met coal, the really important point to note is that at the moment we don’t have a significant alternatives that we can replace existing technologies in steel with very quickly

“So based on what we think, the direction of travel and the timing it would take to do those conversions through the steel industry, that timing would be far longer than the life of our met coal assets

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