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Yancoal forced to halt Austar coal mine production after pressure-burst incident

The New South Wales government served Yancoal Australia Ltd. with a prohibition notice ordering the company to stop production from the longwall at the Austar coal mine following a potential pressure-burst incident earlier in August.

The Department of Industry's Resources and Energy division said Aug. 25 that the incident occurred Aug. 16 during nightshift operations and involved the ejection of coal from the longwall face, but no one was injured.

Geotechnical engineering experts were engaged to independently assess the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The investigation will focus on how to prevent similar ejections from occurring and what preventative controls are available.

The division said a preliminary assessment undertaken by the New South Wales Resources Regulator did not identify any material breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

It added that there will be no further investigation into any potential noncompliance issues, and the regulator does not plan to pursue criminal enforcement action against Yancoal.

However, the regulator did not rule out taking action if the incident was found to be the result of reckless conduct and presented a significant risk of death or serious injury.

"We are continuing to produce development coal and will resume longwall production when appropriate to do so. We are continuing to work with the Department during their assessment," said James Rickards, Yancoal Australia's general manager for investor relations and corporate affairs, in an emailed statement to SNL Metals & Mining.