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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717

Abstract

COOK, A.P.  and  LLOYD, P.J.D.. The estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from South African surface and abandoned coal mines. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.12, pp. 1087-1090. ISSN 2411-9717.

Gas samples were taken from a wide range of target areas on dumps arising from coal mining activities. Some of the dumps had largely burned out, some were still burning, some were in the process of rehabilitation, and on others rehabilitation was essentially complete. It was found that rehabilitation was very effective in reducing emissions to tolerable levels. Even incomplete rehabilitation reduced the CO2 emissions to less than about 1 kg/m2/a, whereas some unrehabil-itated areas showed emissions of over 100 kg/m2/a. Some areas where there was active combustion taking place were also sampled, and they showed as much as 7 000 kg/m2/a, but the areas concerned were very small and their total contribution accordingly low. Analyses were also made for SOx, NOx, NH3, and CH4, but these were generally (and unexpectedly) at very low levels. The mines sampled represented 53 per cent of all surface coal mining activity. Accordingly the estimated total emissions were scaled up, to arrive at estimates of 1 950 000 ± 350 000 t/a CO2, 2040 ± 580 t/a SOx, 306 ± 85t/a NOx, and 31 ± 9 t/a NH3 for all surface mines. Methane was detected only from burning coal, and due to the difficulty in sampling, no reliable estimate could be made of these methane emissions.

Keywords : coal mining; spontaneous combustion; emissions; carbon dioxide; sulphur oxides; nitrogen oxides; methane..

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