October 12, 2018 - Peabody today provided another periodic update on progress to contain impacts of the previously reported fire at the North Goonyella Mine in Queensland.
Details of the current status include:
Safety: The company's first priority is safety as the team continues actions to address this complex situation through a deliberate, staged process. Plans continue to be developed and risk assessed by mine management, a cross section of the workforce, the Queensland Mines Inspectorate, third-party experts and other parties.
Containment Plan: The company continues to implement its multi-part plan from the surface. The company is continuing the initial sealing of the completed longwall panel and intends to permanently seal the area where high methane levels have been concentrated. Three of the mine's five openings remain temporarily sealed to reduce air flow into the mine, and the mobile GAG unit has continued to operate to inject high-moisture inert gases to displace oxygen and reduce conditions for a fire.
Gas Levels: Sampling of underground gases has shown levels on general downward trends in the past two weeks, with the exception of when the GAG unit was undergoing maintenance. The one open shaft continues to emit little or no water vapor or white smoke. Air quality monitoring equipment remains in place around the perimeter of the mine with continued good results.
Other Monitoring: Extensive monitoring is being utilized and is expected to be helpful in later stages of the incident management. The company is utilizing existing bore holes to expand gas level monitoring of the mine. A grid of specialized in-ground monitors is being put into place to identify heated activity within the mine workings. Seismic monitors have been in place since Oct. 3 and have detected no verifiable abnormal activity to date. Specialized cameras are being introduced to provide limited visibility into certain sections of the mine over time.
Force Majeure: Force majeure notices have been issued to coal customers and are being utilized with certain vendors.
Financial Impacts: While still too early to offer meaningful insights into the financial effects or timing of next steps, the company expects financial impacts to future periods. Peabody intends to provide an initial look at financial and other impacts at the time of third quarter earnings, including recording a provision for the third quarter related to equipment expected to be sealed in the completed longwall panel.
Next Steps: While the timeline remains uncertain, the company will continue to evaluate potential next phases of stabilization, assessment, mine planning, re-entry and recovery.
Incident Review: The company welcomes the announcement by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate of its investigation into the events related to North Goonyella. At the appropriate time, the company will initiate a formal review of the incident, with the involvement of independent third parties, and intends to share learnings with the industry and other stakeholders.
"We cannot thank the team enough at North Goonyella, where we are utilizing a number of employees at site during the current phase while redeploying some to other Peabody mines," said Peabody Australia President George Schuller. "We also continue to express our tremendous appreciation for the Inspectorate, Queensland Mines Rescue, the union and business partners. We also have seen an extraordinary outpouring of support from neighbors and the community."