PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner South32 will restart production at its Appin mine, in New South Wales, following a review into its Illawarra metallurgical coal operating systems and processes.
The company on Friday said that it had completed remedial actions at Appin to safely and sustainably restart production, following a staged ramp-up of activity during September.
“We have completed a detailed review of Illawarra metallurgical coal’s operating systems and processes to address the unacceptable levels of performance that have been achieved as the Appin Area 9 project ramped up to capacity,” said South32 CEO Graham Kerr.
“Longwall utilisation rates of 30% to 40% are significantly below industry benchmark levels and an opportunity exists for us to substantially improve productivity in order to maximise the value of this high-quality, long-life resource.”
Longwall 707 restarted production on Friday and South32 is planning to operate a single longwall at the Appin mine, consistent with the ramp-up conditions.
The plan will be adopted across the remainder of the 2018 financial year, before the operation returns to a two longwall configuration in the December quarter of 2018.
Longwall 707 is expected to be completed in the June quarter of next year, at which point South32 will start production at Longwall 902.
Kerr said on Friday that while unit operating costs and profitability would be significantly impacted by a lower production rate in the 2018 financial year, a measured ramp-up of activity at Appin would allow the company to reset the operation’s culture, re-establish minimum performance criteria and drive productivity towards a more acceptable level.
South32 earlier this year reported that it had encountered ground issues at Appin Area 9 and in May said that it had to moderate mining rates in Appin Area 7 to ensure gas concentrations were maintained at safe levels. In June, the company suspended operations at Appin, over concern about a potential gas breach.
The Illawarra complex also includes the Dendrobium mine.