China-backed coal miner Yancoal Australia has halted production at its Austar coking coal mine in New South Wales, until it resolves a dispute with the state regulator over a resumption of operations.
Yancoal, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and whose major shareholder is Shanghai-based Yanzhou Coal Mining Company, said it would start standing down employees and is aiming to redeploy most workers to other underground operations.
The miner is seeking a review of two notices issued by the regulator that prohibited all underground longwall production at the Hunter Valley mine after a so-called coal burst, where tonnes of coal exploded from the longwall face.
No workers were injured, but the incident followed other similar events, including one where an employee was treated for a hand injury after 50 tonnes of coal exploded from a longwall, according to local media reports.
Yancoal was advised on May 18 that the prohibition order would remain in place until a detailed geotechnical assessment was completed and the resources regulator was satisfied workers would be protected from further coal bursts.
"Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity," Yancoal Chief Executive Reinhold Schmidt said in a statement.
Two Austar employees died in another underground wall collapse four years ago.
Late last month, Yancoal announced it had applied for a dual listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, alongside its ASX listing.
Chairman Baocai Zhang said the dual listing would increase the liquidity of the company’s shares and diversify its investor base.
“The Hong Kong stock exchange is one of the leading global stock markets with impressive access to a diversified and stable investor base from both local and overseas investment communities,” Mr Zhang said.
The Hong Kong listing will occur in conjunction with a capital raising, the details of which are being finalised.
Morgan Stanley Asia, CMB International Capital and BOCI Asia are joint sponsors, global coordinators, lead managers and book runners for the raising and the HKEX listing.