On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.111 n.4 Johannesburg Apr. 2011
No. 5 seam mining at Kriel Colliery opencast
The Kriel Colliery is an Anglo Coal mine which is contracted with Eskom to produce No. 4 seam for Kriel power station. The mine previously found it uneconomical to mine No. 5 seam due to the low qualities and tonnages of the seam, both at the opencast and underground sections. An area has been encountered for the first time at Kriel Colliery opencast pit 5, where the tonnage and qualities of No. 5 seam warrant further investigation. The primary reason for the investigation of No. 5 seam by Kriel Colliery is because of the advantage of the high selling price (R450/t) that the market is currently prepared to pay for the No. 5 seam.
The aim of this project is to mine No. 5 seam economically without interrupting No. 4 seam mining operations. The problem is that the equipments that are currently being used at the mine belong to Eskom and are dedicated to mining No. 4 seam only, not No. 5 seam.
Through geology investigation, it is found that the whole No. 5 seam (No. 5 seam upper and lower) has an average thickness of 1.8 m. It also contains a parting of carbonaceous shale which divides the seam into two parts. No. 5 seam upper contains less tonnage compared to No. 5 seam lower. The calorific value and ash content of No. 5 seam lower is far better than No. 5 seam upper, but would still require washing the coal. This makes No. 5 seam lower the preferred seam to mine because it meets the requirements of the customer which is Highveld Steel.
It is a coincidence that the area containing No. 5 seam under investigation encounters high overburden problems. The problem of drilling to No. 4 seam was going to be encountered because the thickness of the overburden ranges from 35 to 39 m. The Gardner Denver at the mine can drill blastholes only to a depth of 34.5 m, meaning the full overburden will not be drilled at once. This means the mining of No. 5 seam will do favours for Eskom because the overburden thickness will be minimized. This then led to an agreement between Anglo Coal and Eskom to mine No. 5 seam because both companies benefit from the project.
In order to identify a suitable mining method for No. 5 seam lower, literature studies took place. It is found that San Juan mine from the USA has similar geological features to Kriel Colliery's No. 5 seam. Through comparisons, it is found that truck and shovel mining would suit the geology of Kriel Colliery's No. 5 seam since San Juan mine is using it. The sequence of mining No. 5 seam lower allows for a clearance of two cuts between the truck and shovel operation and the dragline. The mining sequence of No. 5 and 4 seam will be in the order of top soil removal; soft overburden prestripping; pre-strip drilling; pre-strip hard overburden; No. 5 seam lower coaling; interburden drilling and blasting; interburden stripping and No. 4 seam coaling.
Financial evaluation of the project shows that a contractor will charge Kriel Colliery (Anglo Coal) approximately R 102.2 million to mine No. 5 seam successfully. The sales of No. 5 seam lower will provide a profit of R99.4 million at a yield of 70% from the washing plant. The project is beneficial to both Eskom and Anglo Coal because Eskom will have eliminated the problem of pre-stripping and Anglo Coal will generate additional profit.
Through investigation and analyses of the project, it is proven to be viable and should take place. This is after looking at the advantages that the project has for Anglo Coal and Eskom.
Keywords: No. 5 seam, truck and shovel mining, Kriel Colliery, No. 5 seam mining at Kriel Colliery opencast, Anglo Coal and Eskom, No. 5 seam upper and lower, top soil removal, soft overburden pre-stripping, pre-strip drilling, pre-strip hard overburden, No. 5 seam lower coaling, interburden drilling and blasting, interburden stripping, No. 4 seam coaling
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