Engineering & Mining Journal

MAY 2019

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Page 21 of 83

NEWS - THIS MONTH IN COAL 20 E&MJ • MAY 2019 Sasol Opens New Mine in South Africa Sasol officially opened a new colliery in Mpumalanga, South Africa, where it benefi- ciates coal into high-value fuel and chemi- cal products at world scale. Meaning "suc- cess" in Nguni, Impumelelo is one of three world-class mines Sasol has constructed in the last decade as part of its R14 billion ($994 million) mine replacement program and includes Thubelisha and Shondoni. The inauguration was attended by Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Man- tashe. With an investment of R5.6 billion ($398 million), Impumelelo will have the capacity to produce 10.5 million metric tons per year (mtpy). The colliery currently employs 1,760 people, most of them from nearby communities in Mpumalanga. "In addition to sustaining some 4,000 jobs, the new mines are critical to securing coal supply to Sasol Secunda Synfuels Oper- ations up to at least 2050," said Sasol Joint President and CEO Bongani Nqwababa. A unique feature of the mines is the investment in technologically advanced measures that Sasol has made to ensure the safety of its employees as well as the environment. "These include proximity-detection systems on our trackless machines, which warn and eventually stop the production machines from operating when a person or an object is too close," said Nqwababa. Another technology measure the mines have is an electronic-trigger LED flickering light system to enhance the underground safety precautions. This system visually draws miners' attention when there is movement in the roof. Oth- er investments are in a variety of noise reduction technologies. Sasol is the third-largest producer of coal in South Africa with an output of some 40 million mtpy. Peabody Releases Learnings From North Goonyella Fire After a comprehensive review of the events surrounding the mine fire at North Goonyella that began in September 2018, Peabody Energy has released ini- tial learnings. High gas levels caused the evacuation of personnel during a planned longwall move from the No. 9 North panel to the No. 10 North panel. The company's review concluded that areas of the mine demonstrated both ele- vated methane levels and elevated elevat- ed carbon monoxide (CO) levels following completion of coal production in the No. 9 North panel. During the longwall move sequence, a change in gas management focus to reduce elevated methane lev- els in the No. 9 North panel, including changes to the mine's ventilation system to increase airflow, inadvertently inten- sified the oxidation of coal that was likely causing elevated CO levels. Despite sustained efforts to manage the oxidation from the mine surface, in- cluding use of nitrogen to create an inert environment within the No. 9 North panel goaf (gob), the oxidation accelerated into a spontaneous combustion event that eventu- ally resulted in the fire, the company said. "We believe that the beginning of the planned re-ventilation and re-entry activities warrant a sharing of our initial learnings at this point," said Glenn Kel- low, president and CEO, Peabody Energy. "We are taking multiple actions to inte- grate these learnings into our practices at North Goonyella and our other operations, where appropriate. The goal here is clear, to reduce the risk of such an event reoc- curring at North Goonyella or any of our other mines in the future." During the incident, elevated CO de- tected from within the mine indicated ox- idation of coal. Over a number of weeks, the company worked with industry experts and with the Queensland Mines Inspec- torate (QMI) to take extensive steps to treat the oxidation from the mine surface, but actions were unsuccessful, and a fire occurred in late September. Personnel were safely evacuated and there were no injuries. "While this was a highly unusual com- bination of events, Peabody is making changes in systems, processes and train- ing, where warranted, to put into place the improvements needed to successfully move forward from this incident," said George Schuller, president-Australian operations for Peabody Energy. "For example, we have already begun installing remote control ventilation systems at mine entrances." Longwall production at North Goonyel- la will not recommence until all necessary modifications are undertaken, according to the company. Peabody anticipates limited continuous miner volumes in 2019 with longwall production beginning to ramp up in early 2020 with approximately 2 million tons of sales from North Goonyella in 2020. Peabody said it continues to progress the execution of the multi-phased re-ven- tilation and re-entry of the mine in con- sultation with the QMI. Sasol celebrates the opening of the Impumelelo Colliery in South Africa. Inset: Sasol CEO Steven Colin, Senior Vice President of Mining Operations Pierre Jordaan and Minister Gwede Mantashe.

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