|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Australia and coal|
Beltana mine is a coal mine located approximately 12 kilometres southwest of Singleton, 1 kilometre north of Broke and 1.5 kilometres east of Bulga, in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales.
On its website Xstrata Coal states that "the Beltana Operations comprises one existing underground Longwall coal mining operation, Beltana Highwall and the Beltana Blakefield South Project. Each operation is managed by the Bulga Underground business unit and utilise the services of the Bulga Surface Operations Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) and rail loading facility. During 2006, the Beltana Operations employed a workforce of 170 people. During 2006, the Underground Operations completed the longwall extraction for longwall blocks 5, 6 and approximately one third of longwall 7."
Fire at Blakefield South
In early January 2011, it was reported that a fire had broken out in the Blakefield South mine necessitating the evacuation of 55 miners. Company spokesman, James Rickards, told the ABC that "we've yet to determine how that fire has occurred, whether it's spontaneous combustion, etcetera." Bloomberg reported that the fire had broken out at approximately 7.30pm on Wednesday January 5, 2011. The mine produces 7.5 million tonnes per annum.
Rickards told ABC News that the company had "commenced the introduction of inert nitrogen into the affected area at midnight last night to try to starve the fire of oxygen. Now we've implemented gas monitoring and any decisions regarding re-entry to that underground environment or how long it may take to extinguish the fire will be based on that gas monitoring." In a company statement Rickards stated that "we are not able to predict how long it may take to put the fire out ... (We) will be relying upon our monitoring results to determine when the underground environment may be safe to re-enter."
The company later stated that the fire was extinguished over the weekend, several days after the first first broke out. Rickards indicated that the fire would cost the company "millions" and that the mine could be closed for months before it was reopened.
While most news reports referred to company media statements issued to media outlets, neither the parent company nor its coal subsidiary, Xstrata Coal, have any of the media statements archived on their websites.
On its website Xstrata Coal states that "the Beltana Operations form part of the Bulga Complex and are managed by Bulga Coal Management Pty Limited on behalf of the Bulga Joint Venture (BJV). The BJV ownership comprises Saxonvale Coal Pty Limited which holds an 87.5% share with the remaining 12.5% held by Nippon Steel Australia Pty Limited. Saxonvale Coal Pty Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oakbridge Pty Limited of which Xstrata Coal Pty Limited owns 78% with the remainder held by Tomen Corporation (5%), Nippon Oil (15.2%) and Kawasho Corporation (1.8%)."
Articles and resources
- Xstrata Coal, "Beltana", Xstrata Coal website, accessed August 2010.
- "All safe as fire breaks out in NSW coalmine", ABC News, January 6, 2011.
- Elisabeth Behrmann, "Xstrata Shuts Coal Mine in Australia After Fire; Workers Safe", Bloomberg, January 6, 2011.
- "Xstrata investigates mine fire", ABC News, January 7, 2011.
- "Xstrata not sure how long fire will burn", AAP, January 07, 2011.
- Esmarie Swanepoel, "Xstrata says fire at NSW mine extinguished", MiningWeekly.com, January 9, 2011.
- "Gas monitoring continues after Hunter mine fire", ABC News, January 11, 2011.
- Xstrata, "2011 News Archives", Xstrata website, accessed January 2011.
- Xstrata Coal, "Press releases", Xstrata Coal website, accessed January 2011.