Austar coal mine
|This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.|
The Austar Coal Mine is an underground coal mine located 10 kilometers southwest of Cessnock in the Lower Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
The Austar mine was formerly known as the Southland Colliery and before that as Ellalong Colliery. Ellalong Colliery opened in July 1979 before becoming the Southland Colliery in January 1998. When Yancoal bought it in 2004, it became the Austar Coal Mine. Before the opening of the Ellalong Colliery, mining in the Greta coal seam had been taking place since 1916.
2012 SEC filings by Yangzhou, the majority shareholder of Yancoal, show that the company was looking to expand mining at Austar from a stage 1 area, which was the original Southland mine, and stage 2 area, to a stage 3 and 4. Mining in Stage 2 commenced in February 2009 and was completed in January 2013. Longwall extraction in Stage 3 commenced in June 2013.
The coal is exported through the Port of Newcastle, New South Wales.
- Sponsor: Austar Coal Mine Pty Limited
- Parent Company: Yancoal Australia
- Location: 10 kilometers southwest of Cessnock in the Lower Hunter Valley in NSW
- GPS Coordinates: -32.866855, 151.3046211 (exact)
- Status: retired
- Production Capacity: 3 mtpa 
- Total Resource: 221 mt
- Mineable Reserves:
- Coal type: semi-hard coking coal
- Mine Size:
- Mine Type: underground
- Start Year: mine opened in July 1979, Yancoal began operating in 2005
- Source of Financing:
Mining Accidents at Austar Lead to Eventual Shutdown
In April 2014, two miners were killed when a wall collapsed inside the Austar mine. An investigation into the incident found that the wall collapsed as a result of a pressure burst within the coal seam the two men were mining in.
The investigation also ultimately found that “Austar had a strata control management plan but it did not explicitly identify the risk of pressure burst...By not adequately identifying the risk and then not seeking to fully understand the nature of that risk, it was not possible to manage that risk. As a result, the Austar safety management system could not properly respond to the pressure burst-prone conditions it encountered.”
In August 2016, Austar was temporarily prohibited from mining due to a a potential pressure-burst incident earlier that August.
In July 2018, operations were shut down after two prohibition notices were issued by the regulator following two coal burst events. The first came in February 2018 and the second in May 2018. No one was seriously injured in either incident. Operations resumed in August 2018.
In January 2020, Yancoal announced that they were officially suspending operations at the Austar coal mine beginning at the end of March 2020. Yancoal would not say why Austar was going into care and maintenance beyond saying that mining was about to finish in the area being worked, according to a Newcastle Herald article.
Articles and resources
- "Investigation report: Report into the deaths of James Mitchell and Phillip Grant at the Austar Coal Mine, Paxton, NSW on 15 April 2014", Department of Industry: Resources and Energy, October 2015
- "Yanzhou Coal Mining Company Limited", UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, April 2012
- "OPERATIONS", Austar Coal Mine site, Accessed April 8, 2020
- Yancoal Australia, "Austar Coal Mine", Yancoal Australia website, accessed August 2010.
- "AUSTAR*" Yancoal Australia website, Accessed April 8, 2020
- Ian Kirkwood, "China's Yancoal puts Austar mine at Cessnock on care and maintenance" The Newcastle Herald, January 24, 2020
- "Austar shining bright", Australia's Mining Monthly, April 18, 2007
- Michael Safi, "Two miners killed in wall collapse at Austar coalmine in Hunter Valley" The Guardian, April 15, 2014
- Angie East, "Yancoal forced to halt Austar coal mine production after pressure-burst incident", S&P Global, August 25, 2016
- Annabelle Regan, "Hunter Valley Austar coal mine to shut down with 200 jobs in doubt", ABC Newcastle, July 8, 2018