18th July 2018

Yancoal applied to the Commission for a review under the NSW Work Health and Safety Act. One of Yancoal’s arguments was that the Resources Regulator had explicitly refused to cancel the prohibition notices after a request.

In dismissing Yancoal’s application, the Commission found the Regulator did not refuse to cancel the prohibition notices, and instead noted that the Regulator was corresponding with Yancoal in relation to the seriousness of the circumstances at the mine, and ongoing concern for the safety of workers.

The judgment further found the Regulator continued to assess the situation at the mine by requesting more information, including seeking confirmation that key duty holders were fully aware of the situation. The Commission found the Regulator was still considering the company’s request for the cancellation of the prohibition notices.

A prohibition notice issued from Resources Regulator to Yancoal halting all underground longwall production at the Austar Coal Mine will remain in place.

The notice was issued in response to a significant coal burst event on May 17, 2018. While no workers were injured in this incident, the coal burst reportedly caused major damage to the longwall shearer and an estimated 60 tonnes of coal was ejected from the longwall face.

The Regulator had previously prohibited cutting at the longwall after a coal burst event on 16 March 2018. Prior to this, the mine had only been allowed to undertake controlled cutting under strict conditions to test additional controls to mitigate a coal burst risk, which included the maintenance of a 50-metre exclusion zone for workers.