27th March 2019

The NSW Resources Regulator will lead a causal investigation into an incident at Metropolitan Coal Mine, where workers were withdrawn from underground after carbon dioxide and methane levels increased unexpectedly and at a significant rate.

Around 6pm on 21 March, workers were withdrawn in accordance with mine procedures after a supervisor detected increasing gas levels coming from floor cracks on the longwall face.

Gas levels in the longwall return airway and the main return peaked at levels of 16 per cent methane and 16 per cent carbon dioxide in the longwall return. The source of the gas release is unknown.

Acceptable gas levels in NSW mines is two per cent for methane and within normal air mix for carbon dioxide.

A preliminary assessment undertaken by the Regulator did not identify any material breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Regulator has no intention of conducting any further investigation into non-compliance issues.

The focus of ongoing inquiries is to identify the issues associated with the event in accordance with the Regulator’s Causal Investigation Policy.

Stakeholders have been invited to participate, including the mine operator, the equipment designer and manufacturer, workers, health and safety representatives and industry and mine safety and health representatives.

The Resources Regulator will publish an Investigation Information Release on the incident within the next 14 days on the department’s website.