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INSIDE

March 2014

• Springvale powers • Soil solution • Sedgman pain


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regular

features

What they said .......................... 4 Flashback ................................. 4 Hardware ................................ 14 Wills on Walls .......................... 16 A Pint With.............................. 25 Longwall Larrikin..................... 32 Hogsback ................................ 56

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Published by Aspermont Ltd (ABN: 66 000 375 048)

MANAGING EDITOR: Michael Cairnduff SENIOR EDITOR ENERGY: Noel Dyson EDITOR AT LARGE: Lou Caruana WRITERS: Blair Price, Sadie Davidson, Vetti Kakulus

news and

features

PRODUCTION MANAGER: Mata Henry SENIOR LAYOUT DESIGNER: Matt Leigh LAYOUT DESIGNER: Catherine Hogan SUB-EDITORS: Maxine Brown, Melanie Jenkins ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER: Angela Smith ADVERTISING SALES: Heidi Paracchini, ADVERTISING PRODUCTION: Isaac Burrows (adproduction@aspermont.com) SUBSCRIPTIONS: Ph: 61 8 6263 9100 Email: subscriptions@longwalls.com 4 issues per annum – Australia: $A47.85 (GST included); Regional (PNG, NZ, SE Asia): $A60.00; International: $A70.00. EXECUTIVES: Chief Executive Officer – Colm O’Brien General Manager – Trish Seeney Chief Financial Officer – John Detwiler HEAD OFFICE: Aspermont Limited, 613-619 Wellington Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000 PO Box 78, Leederville, Western Australia 6902 Ph: 61 8 6263 9100 Fax: 61 8 6263 9148 EMAIL: editorial@longwalls.com subscriptions@longwalls.com advertising@longwalls.com

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Universal appeal

20

Springvale springs back

27

Soil solution

34

Clever conveying

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Tailing off tailings

Things are starting to take shape for an Australian company mining African coal.

Commissioning of a next-generation longwall has given this mine a new lease on life.

Bengalla backing a Soil Carbon Community Project.

A Rio Tinto conveyor gets the coal where its needed while touching lightly on the environment.

A centrifuge decanter is helping solve a tailings problem.

WEBSITE: www.industry-news.net www.longwalls.com COPYRIGHT WARNING: All editorial copy and some advertisements in this magazine are subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the managing editor. Offenders may be prosecuted.

For up to date news on the coal industry visit www.longwalls.com


from the

editor’s

chair

Productivity pays. IT is a mantra that has set in with other parts of the mining sector, but is yet, it seems, to resonate within coal. The time is fast coming for it to do so. Coal is different, everybody says. Yes it is. However, is it so different that it requires a set up where managers have to go to union officials to make a change to a roster, or how a particular task is conducted or even what contractors to use? It is this sort of thinking that has led to the death of the Australian car industry, the near death of the canning industry and helped put national airline Qantas into a tailspin. Unions have their place. But so too does management. This impediment to letting managers manage is what could put the Australian

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coal industry into the same boat as the car industry. It will never happen, I hear you say. But it could. Some of the coal mines that were at the vanguard of the past mining boom(s) – some tend to look at the boom as extending from about 2003 through to 2012 or so, and miss out the little slowdown around 2008 – are on the borderline now. Sure, in some cases strip ratios and declining resources are cruelling them. However, the cost of antiquated work practices is also taking its toll. It is little secret that some mines only kept producing because they had take-or-pay contracts with the railway operators. So it is quite conceivable that unless something changes, miners could go the way

of the car makers. Many of us can remember when there were four car manufacturers here. Then Mitsubishi left. Then Ford left. Then Holden left. Then finally, Toyota decided it could no longer put up with the work practices at its factory in Australia and decided it could do things cheaper, and better, elsewhere. We do not want to see the same happen with coal miners. There needs to be a change to the work practices in these mines. This is not to say wages necessarily have to be slashed. Nor is it necessarily the case that there have to be mass job losses. But managers need to be able to manage and flexibility has to be brought back into ICN the equation. – Noel Dyson

March 2014 I ICN


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in brief

WHAT THEY SAID

“We intend to fight for the rights of our shareholders.” – NuCoal Resources managing director Glen Lewis

“[Prime Minister] Tony Abbott and [Environment Minister] Greg Hunt are rushing through projects with a rubber stamp.” – Greens leader Senator Christine Milne

“Our productivity continues to improve and this was most clearly demonstrated by our Queensland Coal business.” – BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie

“The market conditions are yet to improve.” – Gujarat NRE Coking Coal on cutting 47 jobs

flashback 1898 Photo by Ralph Snowball. Image courtesy of the Norm Barney Photographic Collection and the University of Newcastle.

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THis photo was taken on March 21, 1898, the day of the Dudley pit disaster, with 15 lives lost following a gas-fuelled underground explosion. The large crowd shown here waited for news from the crews who bravely – and in vain – searched for survivors underground. Out of the tragedy came key safety changes. The blast, which came at a time that gas lamps were still used, followed a weekend shutdown of the ventilation fans. The practice of continuous ventilation and the adoption of safety lamps consequently emerged since this mining disaster. The Dudley Colliery was located 10 miles from Newcastle. It was known as the South Burwood Colliery when it opened in 1891. It ended up closing in 1939. March 2014 I ICN


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International Briefs

Indonesia Bumi separation closer FORMER Bumi Plc director Nat Rothschild has indicated he will support the separation of the company from the Indonesian Bakrie family. Completion of the separation will involve the disposal of the company’s 29.2% interest in Indonesian coal miner Bumi Resources for $US501 million, a 116% premium to the market value of the interest. It will also mean the company’s separation from the influential Bakrie Group and will deliver Bumi Plc majority ownership in the fifth largest coal producer in Indonesia. Rothschild entered into a relationship agreement with Bumi that gave him the right to nominate an independent director for the Bumi board. As a founder shareholder he still holds a stake of more than 15% in the company. The suitability of any director Rothschild nominates will be evaluated by Bumi’s nomination committee with particular reference to the UK Corporate Governance Code. He confirmed he and his affiliates would favour the relevant resolutions covering the separation that would be put to shareholders. Bumi CEO Nick von Schirnding said he was pleased Rothschild was supporting the separation.

Mongolia

“This agreement will help us to deliver a value-accretive transaction that is in the best interests of all shareholders,” he said. Rothschild said his first priority was to protect the interest of Bumi Plc’s independent shareholders. “With that in mind, the best way I can currently influence the company is to nominate a director to what will be an independent board dedicated to realising value,” he said. The Bumi story has had many twists from the time Bumi Plc discovered financial irregularities in its Indonesian operations.

Poland

Coal of India explores South African coal mining

FOUR maintenance workers at a coalfired power plant in Poland have fallen to their deaths while working on the facility’s chimney. The incident occurred at the Kozienice plant south of Warsaw in December, at which time none of the victims’ identities had been released. Emergency official Waldemar Krakowiak told the Associated Press that the group, which had been carrying out maintenance to the chimney, fell about 120m. In September, the nation reaffirmed its commitment to coal and said it would invest in new burning technologies, not reduce its

OFFICIALS from the South African Department of Trade and Industry and representatives from Coal of India have agreed to explore mutual prospects in the coal sector in order to increase trade relations between the two countries and explore opportunities on display in the South African mining industry value chain. The agreement emanated from a meeting held on the sidelines of the Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town. Coal of India is in the business of mining and exporting low grade thermal coal and has been mapping the South African coal mining industry, with the aim of acquiring mining

MONGOLIA-focused Aspire has signed two memoranda of understanding agreements with two Russian coking coal end users for purchasing up to 1.3 million tonnes per annum from its Ovoot project. The explorer separately struck an MoU for 2Mtpa of rail and port capacity through Russia’s far east coast at “competitive tariffs”. Overall, the non-binding offtake agreements so far total 6.9Mtpa of coal, with Aspire’s project in the Ovoot Basin targeting first production of 5Mtpa in 2017.

Carbon waits on payment

Guildford meets funding needs

CARBON Energy has reached substantial completion on the first two engineering packages for stage 1 of the Inner Mongolia underground coal gasification project. The work comes from a technical services agreement with the Haoqin joint venture, with Carbon waiting for the receipt of $335,000 for the work so far. The company has also invoiced the JV for

WITH its Mongolian coal mine expected to make first exports in the March quarter, Guildford Coal has lined up $US65 million of financing. The funds provided by OCP Asia will come through Guildford’s package of 2015 convertible bonds and 2016 amortising notes with detachable warrants. The arrangements, which are pending

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South Africa

Four die at Polish power plant

an advance payment of approximately $2 million relating to the remaining engineering packages to be completed. Haoqin has been delayed in paying the amounts due to a changeover in chairman, with Carbon holding off on completing any more work or delivering packages until payment is received. The company has reduced the number of contract staff working on the project to mitigate the cost impact of the delay. “Carbon Energy is confident this procedural issue will be overcome and is maintaining a regular dialogue with its project partners to ensure minimal disruption to the project timetable,” Carbon Energy CEO Morne Engelbrecht said.

Aspire signs up

tonnage needs, for the nation’s coal-fired plants. At the time Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that just as the Polish economy and Polish energy were based on coal in the past, both would continue to be based on coal but in a “modern, more environmentally friendly way”. “It will certainly be our main choice for many, many years,” he said. Poland is the largest hard coal producer in the European Union, with about 90% of the country’s electricity generated by coal.

The boxcut at Guildford’s Baruun Noyon Uul mine.

final documentation, will extend Guildford’s existing financing with the first principal repayment pushed back to 2015. Guildford said the additional capital came without “material additional” dilution of issued capital to shareholders. Separately, Guildford is finalising the documentation with commodities trader Noble Group over a $22 million loan to fund development of a haul road from its Baruun Noyon Uul mine in Mongolia to the Chinese border. The explorer said both financing deals would complete its funding requirements for the road, enabling it to start minesite preparations and meet the milestone of first coal sales in the March quarter. March 2014 I ICN


concessions and information on how best to exploit coal deposits in a way that serves the best interests of all stakeholders. DTI spokesman Yunus Hoosen said the discussions also elaborated on the costs involved in the mining business and the industry’s policy on government priority in terms of mining and regulatory framework in the effort to clarify and provide predictable solutions. “These discussions with different stakeholders are a breakthrough on how South Africa could engage more productively with investors in the mining sector,” he said. Hoosen said the talks were also a platform to encourage big mining players to develop smaller mining companies in the coal sector to be sustainable and also hone in on the beneficiation opportunities and localisation within the industry.

Dragline sold to Glencore in R173M online sale A 3300-tonne dragline has been sold to Glencore by a major South African mining house for more than 173 million rand in an online mining auction conducted by Clear Asset. It is more than 15 years since such a machine was sold in South Africa. The asset was sold during a clean-up of redundant stock and valued at more than R1 billion new. Historically, a machine of this calibre can take up to four years to secure based on the delivery schedule and the sheer scale of transport logistics. Market intelligence suggests there is a twoyear waiting list for such a machine. To transport a dragline of that size internationally, without considering reassembly at its destination, would cost about R90 million. This particular dragline will stay in South Africa and be “walked” to its new destination, at a mere 100m an hour. The dragline machine is used for excavating the overburden layer above the coal levels deep underground and is equivalent to the size of a six-storey building. “It goes without saying that a machine of this size and power is rarely sold,” Clear Asset managing director Ariella Kuper said. “Such vital excavating tools are in high demand due to their reliability and extremely low waste removal cost. In a single cycle, these machines can move up to 450 metric tonnes of material and the engine room alone is equal to the size of a small hall and comes equipped with a kitchen. We are extremely pleased with the sale.” Clear Asset specialises in mining asset disposal on behalf of major mines including Anglo Platinum, Anglo Coal, Lonmin, Glencore, Anglo Gold Ashanti and Diesel Power. The next online mining auction is set for February 11, with a wide selection of mining assets on offer. ICN I March 2014

An Eickhoff SL 750 longwall shearer loader.

Germany Eickhoff receives US shearer loader order EICKHOFF Corporation has received an order for two SL 750 longwall shearer loaders from Walter Energy, a producer of metallurgical coal for the global steel industry based in Birmingham, Alabama. The machines will be operating at a Walter Energy installation near Brookwood. The shearer model is used in medium height seams and has been highly successful in coal mine operations throughout the world. Xstrata’s Oaky Creek North mine set several Australian longwall records using the Eickhoff SL 750 with EiControl automation. These included a one-month

UK What CSG developers can learn at the rubbish dump CSG developers allocating funds to local communities may benefit from adopting a similar approach used in the landfill industry, according to environmental body EB Scotland managing director and former Scottish Landfill Communities Fund Forum chairman William Beattie. The Landfill Communities Fund was launched in 1996 and so far, about £1.3 billion has been awarded to more than 40,000 projects. Beattie welcomed the steps taken by the UK Onshore Operator’s Group to introduce an independent system for community funding through the pilot scheme of exploration sites. Shale operators have agreed to allocate a

longwall tonnage of about 1.5 million tonnes. Consol Energy’s Bailey mine completed its first 1500-foot face longwall panel using an Eickhoff SL 750 shearer loader and a second 1500ft face is being mined with an Eickhoff SL 750 shearer. The longwall panels are about 12000ft long. Eickhoff Corporation’s facilities are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Eickhoff Group’s global headquarters and manufacturing facilities are in Bochum, Germany. Its other subsidiaries are in Australia, Belarus, China, Poland, Russia, and South Africa. Eickhoff is a world-class supplier of longwall shearers, providing the international mining community with more than 50 machines every year. This year marks the 150th anniversary of company operation. lump sum of £100,000 when a test well is fracced, plus 1% of revenues. “Many lessons can be learned from the model used by the Landfill Communities Fund, particularly around the independent approach taken to consultation and funds allocation,” Beattie said. “A financial injection can have a significant impact on a small area and it is crucial projects leave a lasting legacy to benefit the greater good of the community and not the few individuals who should the loudest.” EB Scotland, which merged with Score Environment, has overseen almost £30 million of community funding. The majority of funds have been allocated to community assets (48%) from playgrounds to community woodlands. Heritage projects have taken up 24% of awards followed by sustainable waste management, biodiversity, and reclamation and remediation. 7


Cover Story The future is looking a little brighter for the coal industry, but there are clouds on the horizon all the same.

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March 2014 I ICN


The future of coal There seem to be signs of an improvement in the outlook for the coal sector, but it may be a little soon for producers to start blasting the old Timbuk3 song yet.

F

or while the future may look bright, it is not bright enough for them to need shades. Probably the brightest spot on the horizon, certainly in Australia, has been the news that Stanwell Corporation would mothball its largest gas-fired power station, little more than a decade after it was commissioned. Then came BHP Billiton’s half-year results, which showed some massive improvements in the state of play in its coal operations. There has also been better news coming out of the US, where coal appears to be clawing back some ground over gas in the generation market. However, there are some dark clouds lurking, not least in what appears to be the US government pressuring Japanese financiers to stop backing coal projects in developing countries. This follows attempts by US President Barack Obama administration’s efforts to have US financiers stop backing coal-fired power developments in the developing world. Other financiers, such as the World Bank, subsequently followed suit.

ICN I March 2014

Over in Australia though, the good news – at least for coal – came with news of the Stanwell gas plant closing. It appears Stanwell worked out it could make more money by generating power using cheaper coal and selling the gas it had contracted for its 385MW Swanbank E combined-cycle gas turbine station, near Ipswich, to other gas users instead. In Swanbank E’s place, the company expects to recommission one of the coal-fired generators at the 1400MW Tarong Power Station in South Burnett, although actual timing of its return to service is being left open. “With subdued market conditions and increasing gas prices expected to continue, Stanwell can earn more revenue from selling our gas rather than using it in electricity generation,” Stanwell CEO Richard van Breda said. “In the current market, we get more money from selling gas than burning it to generate electricity. “Stanwell is a commercial entity, operating in a highly competitive electricity market,” he said. 9


COVER STORY

“We need to pursue strategies that deliver the best return for our shareholders; the people of Queensland.” International Coal News understands Stanwell gas is sourced from BG/QGC, Santos and Arrow.

“Today’s [February 17] judgment is welcome. We take our obligations to our people seriously and this decision allows us to continue the work to return the units to service which is good for our people and for the South Burnett region,” he said.

From the government’s point of view, the Stanwell decision is a clear triumph of market forces over what it sees as bad, unsustainable policies to drive up consumption of gas and renewable energy sources at the expense of coal. Two of the main generators at Tarong were withdrawn from service in late 2012 because of a decline in wholesale electricity prices. Stanwell had a bit more assistance in bringing one of those generators back on line in late February. The Federal Court in Brisbane recently rejected a union application for an interlocutory injunction that would have delayed the return to service of two electricity generation units at Tarong Power Station, near Kingaroy. “We made a business decision to return the Tarong units to service,” van Breda said.

The Stanwell decision is going to make things interesting, with the Australian government attempting to repeal the carbon tax and parliamentary committees hearing submissions on inquiries into climate change policies. From the government’s point of view, the Stanwell decision is a clear triumph of market forces over what it sees as bad, unsustainable policies to drive up consumption of gas and renewable energy sources at the expense of coal. These policies include the Queensland Gas Scheme, which ended last year, the hopefully

soon-to-be-dumped carbon tax and the renewable energy target that is under review. The Queensland Gas Scheme was introduced in 2005 to promote the use of gas in domestic power generation. It gave generators financial incentives that were ultimately paid for by consumers to achieve a minimum of 15% of their supply from gas-fired power. As industry commentator David Upton put it in a recent piece in ICN’s sister publication Energy News, the Abbott government argued markets should be allowed to operate to achieve the lowest-priced electricity, and it was hard to find fault with Stanwell’s decision on that basis. The state-owned generator will make more money by selling the gas back to the CSGto-LNG operators than burning it, and that means more money for Queensland taxpayers as the owners of the Stanwell. Lower electricity prices are also good for gas consumers, and that is another argument government will seize upon as manufacturers cry foul over high costs and line up for taxpayer-funded bailouts. Upton wrote that the swing back to coal began in 2012 when AGL bought out is partners in Victoria’s Loy Yang A power station, acquiring a 67.5% stake for $448

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance has made big inroads into bringing its costs under control.

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March 2014 I ICN


million. The brown coal-fired generator supplies about one-third of Victoria’s electricity needs. Then last year, Origin purchased the 720MW Eraring coal-fired power station, on the western shore of Lake Macquarie, from the NSW government for $659 million. However, Stanwell’s decision to shut down a modern gas-fired power station is the most powerful symbol yet of the return to coalfired power in Australia, and could galvanise support for the carbon tax to be saved. Another factor in the coal industry’s resurgence will come from productivity. For too long the industry has been beset by poor work practices, which, rather than the high wages coal miners earn, has been more to blame for the cost blowouts the industry has faced. The benefits of turning an eye to cost management and productivity improvements has been sheeted home through BHP Billiton’s recent financial report. Its Queensland coal joint venture with Mitsubishi slicing 25% off its unit cash costs. For the six months to December, BHP’s coal division reported revenues of $US4.7 billion and profit from operations of $510 million. This compares favourably with the corresponding period in 2012, when coal

made no contribution to profit, despite higher revenues of $4.9 billion. “There is no better example of the renewed discipline that we are applying at an operational level than Queensland Coal, where our focus on contractor and maintenance costs significantly improved the profitability of the operation,” the company said. “In this regard, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance unit cash costs declined by a substantial 25% during the period.” Underlying earnings before interest and tax

scheduled longwall move at West Cliff in the September quarter resulted in a 13% decline in Illawarra Coal production in the half year. Operations at Illawarra Coal are expected to return to normal before the end of the March 2014 quarter. Metallurgical coal is well-positioned to achieve full-year production guidance, although the current wet season in northern Australia represents a key risk, the company said. It remains confident of the medium-term outlook for met coal.

For the six months to December, BHP’s coal division reported revenues of $US4.7 billion and profit from operations of $510 million. for the half year increased by $431 million to $510 million. The continued recovery in profitability was underpinned by productivityled volume and cost-efficiencies, which increased underlying EBIT by $779 million. In total, lower prices reduced underlying EBIT by $611 million, net of price-linked costs. An extended outage at Dendrobium and a

“With global growth rates expected to rise, demand for steel-making raw materials from markets outside of China should also rise,” the company said. “This will predominantly benefit metallurgical coal demand given the reliance of these markets on higher quality, imported product. Against this backdrop, the unsustainable nature of high-cost North

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ICN I March 2014

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COVER STORY

Reports claim the US government has requested that Japan and the Japan Bank International Corporation withdraw coalrelated lending to developing countries that are likely to use the fuel as a means of fast economic growth. American exports and slowing supply growth from Australia should be supportive for metallurgical coal pricing in the medium term.” BHP Billiton’s $845 million investment in Appin Area 9 in NSW – which maintains Illawarra Coal’s production capacity with a replacement mining domain and capacity to produce 3.5Mtpa of metallurgical coal – is on track for completion in 2016. The Caval Ridge mine development is on schedule for first production in the first half of the 2014 calendar year with the ramp-up to phase one capacity of 5.5Mt of premium hard coking coal expected by the end of the 2015 financial year. “Our Queensland Coal business continues to perform strongly, however we have retained total metallurgical coal production guidance of 41Mt for the 2014 financial year given the general uncertainty that exists as we enter the wet season,” the company said. “Energy coal production guidance for the 2014 financial year remains unchanged at 73Mt.” Another operation to watch on this front is GlencoreXstrata’s Collinsville mine. GlencoreXstrata took the opportunity of the ending of the contract with its contract miner to re-engineer its operations there.

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The way things were, but possibly no longer as GlencoreXstrata has made big changes to how things operate at Collinsville.

,It has replanned the operation to make use of larger trucks and shovels. It is making changes to its coal-handling and preparation plant to improve productivity there. However, while there have been swings towards the coal sector, there have been some hiccups too. Not least of those is the US government’s efforts to kill off its own coal industry, bringing in much stricter emissions standards that make it very difficult for coal plants keep operating – although some of the plants affected were probably at the end of their useful lives anyway. However, it went a step further by trying to stop first its own financiers and then other financiers to stop lending money to overseas coal projects. Japan is apparently coming under increasing US pressure to cut funding to the coal sector. Reports claim the US government has requested that Japan and the Japan Bank International Corporation withdraw coal-related lending to developing countries that are likely to use the fuel as a means of fast economic growth. It is reported that there have already been high-level talks between the US and staff at JBIC. Results are said to be ongoing, but Japan is one of the key countries the US will be lobbying to tackle the issue. The JBIC continues to be the largest single provider of funding to new coal plants in developing countries, according to the National Resources Defence Council. The Japan Bank issued a statement saying that no US or multilateral institutions had asked it to stop financing coal. However, according to NRDC, Japan’s largest development bank has given $US12 billion ($A13.3 billion) to coal-fired power station projects in 2007 to 2013. TNC’s Toshiba and Hitachi are rumoured to be major beneficiaries of Japan’s funding of coal-power stations in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. However, JBIC says the companies only install the most efficient coal-fired technology where there are few alternatives to burning fossil fuels. Observers say Japan is becoming increasingly isolated by continuing to fund coal power, after the US government said multilateral financial institutions should limit their exposure to the fuel industry. Institutions such as World Bank, US Export-Import Bank and the European Investment Bank have all pledged to scale back involvement in the sector. If JBIC cut back funding to coal power, other institutions would have to follow suit for the US’s global “divestment” campaign to be ICN effective. March 2014 I ICN


SOFTWARE GroundProbe’s slope stability radar played a key role in predicting the pit wall collapse at Kennecott Utah Copper. The company has launched an updated version of the viewer software attached to it.

Stability a must IT IS being called an evolutionary step for slope stability monitoring ability, admittedly by the company launching it. However, GroundProbe’s SSR-Viewer 8.1 software does combine the latest the company has in visualisation and alarm technology to boost mine site safety. The company has made its name through its slope stability radar technology, which has played a key role in predicting many pit wall failures – not the least of them being the pit wall collapse at Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper mine. GroundProbe software engineering manager James Usherwood said there was a range of new features with SSR-8.1. “Working in partnership with senior industry geotechnical engineers from around the world, SSR-Viewer 8.1 has been developed from the ground up to create a product in tune with the industry’s needs,” he said. “We now have six different triggers that can be set per alarm.

“This greatly improves alarm persistence through changing conditions.” The six alarm triggers are all based on detecting dangerous movement of a mine wall and include tools such as deformation alarms, a range of velocity alarms, tracking alarms and even alarms if the shape of the surface changes. “The alarms include deformation, coherence, tracking, velocity, inverse velocity and velocity ratio,” Usherwood said. “The use is able to select a combination of alarm triggers to best suit their needs. Users can also personalise the alarms to alert certain users via server emails and text messages. “Feedback from external geotechnical engineers and customers onsite have also played an important role in the features in the latest version of the software,” Usherwood said. The software has also moved into a mobile space. It is accessible on tablets, PCs, servers and virtual machines, but still allows

continuous monitoring for up to 12 months. “Some enhanced mobility allows for a greater flexibility and the opportunity for remote access,” Usherwood said. Another feature is the automatically created three-dimensional photo-realistic digital terrain map. This gives users the ability to create visual 3D representations to monitor the mine in real-time. The 3D maps and data sets are said to be easy to use and provide the best tools for data analysis, while a change in the software’s architecture allows multiple data views displayed across multiple screens to make analysis easier. Users can view information across platforms too, which removes the need for copying. For reporting purposes the user can also easily export the data generated. Usherwood said the goal for the software was to assist in the prevention and management of risk and optimise safety and productivity through every level of ICN industry.

RPM rolls out haulage software SOFTWARE maker RungePincockMinarco has launched a software product called Haulsim at the Society of Mining Engineers annual meeting and exhibit in Salt Lake City. Haulsim provides an industry-specific hauling simulation solution, giving users the ability to accurately model, visualise and analyse every aspect of their mine haulage system. It is effective for all mining projects regardless of commodity, mining method or phase in the mine cycle. It gives an insight into the impact of changes to the mining haulage systems, with the aim of creating more confidence ICN I March 2014

in future planning and design decisions. Using Haulsim, information can be quickly quantified and reproduced. With capital spend highly scrutinised across the industry, Haulsim offers miners a quick and easy way to model the impact of extra equipment and changes in haulage plans, without the cost of expanding their fleet. Haulsim can provide more certainty around the cost of final changes and can assist in the final justification. “Through the simulation process, Haulsim can even help miners find efficiencies in their current operational configuration through

changes in their haulage plan, without the cost of expanding their fleet and without the need to spend any capital to test assumptions,” RPM software director Craig Halliday said. Haulsim combines RPM’s 35 years of experience in mining simulation and knowledge of the hauling systems with powerful simulation technology from industry leader FlexSim. FlexSim co-founder, president and CEO Bill Nordgren said the FlexSim product provided real benefits to many customers in many industry verticals where its simulation products were used. 13


Hardware

Updating an old favourite

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March 2014 I ICN


IT HAS been around since the mid 1960s and with its latest version, Caterpillar has given the 834K wheel dozer a new cab, refined transmission, advanced monitoring system and safety enhancements. Available blade types include straight, universal, semi-universal and coal, ranging in capacity from 7.9 to 22.2 cubic metres. Rated at 370 kilowatts, the 834K’s Cat C18 engine is available in three configurations to tailor the machine for any region in the world. The Cat 4F/3R planetary power-shift transmission in the 834K features an advanced productivity electronic control shifting system to provide greater machine momentum through shift points, which is

ICN I March 2014

designed to improve performance and save fuel. The impeller clutch torque converter lets the operator adjust rimpull from 100% to 25% to match hydraulic effort and rimpull to the operating situation, which reduces tyre wear and permits full-throttle shifts for greater productivity. The cab features an automatic temperature control, a touchscreen display with soft keypad, electrohydraulic parking brake and the Cat Comfort III seat with air-ride suspension and integral controls. It is also fitted with the Cat vital information management system, which features a large touchscreen interface to keep operators

informed of machine operating parameters. Operator safety has been a major design focus of the latest 834K iteration. It features a standard rear-view camera, repositioned access ladders, full perimeter railings and a ground-level panel that houses a stairway light switch, engine shutdown switch and lockouts for the starter and transmission. The Cat Detect system is also available for the 834K, which supplements the rear-view camera with radar sensors on the front of the machine to provide both audible and visual indicators of objects in its working space. Routine service points are accessible from ground level or from large skid-resistant ICN platforms.

15


WILLS ON WALLS

Back to basics A few years ago in this column, I wrote about the “golden rules” of longwall mining. I frequently get asked for the golden rules, so I decided it was time to update the list with a “back to basics” look at best practice on a longwall.

I

should point out that these basic rules work for everyone from the sharp end of the business (the coal face) to everyone outbye, which includes engineers of all disciplines, managers, technicians, consultants, suppliers and CEOs (and accountants).

1

Rule 1 The hydraulic pumps are the heart of the longwall system. Without the correct pressure and flow, the roof support system will not function correctly and the longwall roof will be damaged, resulting in roof falls and downtime. Check your OEM’s recommended operating pressure. Never operate your longwall with reduced pressure and flow and never operate with only one pump running.

2

Rule 2 The high pressure guaranteed set system is there to “top up” the hydraulic pressure and “guarantee” the correct setting load in the support legs. If you have a high-pressure system fitted on your longwall, never operate under normal conditions with it turned off.

3

Rule 3 In longwall mining, we often continue to produce coal with broken or faulty equipment. The majority of engineering breakdowns are usually readily fixed within a few shifts but how big is a roof fall and how long will it take to fix it? A day? A week? Several months? Do not turn engineering problems into mining problems. The consequences are many times more expensive and hazardous to the longwall crews who have to fix them.

4 5

Rule 4 There is no such thing as a nearly straight longwall face. It’s straight, or it is bent. Keep the longwall straight. If it is bent, fix it.

Rule 5 When the supports are in yield, the supports are lowering and the roof is coming down with the canopy. That leads to fractures in the roof and bed separation in the overlying strata, resulting in broken roof and roof falls. If the supports on the longwall face are yielding, do not stop. Keep cutting until the yielding event has ceased.

6

Rule 6 Armoured face convyeor creep is one of the most destructive forces on a longwall. Once out of control is will accelerate and get much worse before it gets better. Constant vigilance is required. The rate of creep is more important than how far offline it is. Measure the AFC creep every shear and record it accurately.

7

Rule 7 Horizon control is critical to successful longwall operations. Everything on a longwall has to follow the path that the shearer cuts. Changes in horizon should be made in small steps. If the AFC angle looks wrong, it probably is. Fix it rather than try and keep going. It will take eight to 12 shears to fix up a bad cut.

8

Rule 8 The supports on a longwall should be advanced as close as practicable behind the shearer. Longwall rates of cutting are determined by how quickly the pumps can advance and set the supports to the correct pressures, not by shearer speed. If the support advance falls behind, slow down the shearer.

9

Rule 9

Wills advises following his rule number 5 and avoiding roof falls.

The gate end areas of the longwall are the areas of high stress. The supports in this area must be advanced once the driveframes are pushed over. Do not leave supports back at the main and tailgate ends of the longwall.

10 Rule 10

Longwall operations require high levels of maintenance to remain effective. Gone are the days when changing legs could be left to the end of a block of coal. Every hydraulic leak and bypass is downgrading the system. Regular maintenance is essential to longwall health. Remember that poor practice today may not manifest itself until tomorrow or the next day. We cannot always see the results of our ICN actions immediately.

16

March 2014 I ICN


News

Universal appeal With a recent acquisition and first coal due soon from another operation, Universal Coal is on track to becoming an African mid-tier producer.

U

niversal Coal has entered into a binding sale of agreement with South African coal giant Exxaro Resources to acquire all the assets and assume certain liabilities of the New Clydesdale Colliery, located adjacent to its Roodekop deposit. CEO Tony Weber said the agreement could help transform the company into a multimine coal producer. “The acquisition of NCC marks a major step forward to becoming a leading mid-tier coal producer, expediting development of our second operation immediately on the heels of commissioning our first operation – Kangala mine near Johannesburg,” he said. “Our Roodekop deposit contains an 84 million tonne coal resource – 82.9 million tonnes of which is measured – and is awaiting only the granting of a water use licence before development activities can commence. “In combination with NCC’s established operation and infrastructure, the path forward to bringing our next mine onstream has certainly been fast-tracked.” Located 34km south of Emalahleni in the Mpumalanga Province, NCC is one of the oldest coal mines in South Africa, having been worked on sporadically since 1949 and operating as recently as December. Historically, the operation has produced about 717,000 tonnes per annum of thermal coal from underground and open pit operations, primarily for the export markets through the Richards Bay coal terminal. The operation has an extensive resource base and coal beneficiation facility, with a run of mine throughput capacity of about 2Mtpa. The mine is fully equipped with mining machinery and infrastructure able to operate three underground mining sections. NCC is located close to established road and rail infrastructure, with a private railway connection with Transnet Freight Rail allowing for direct export of its coal. Exxaro established that NCC was no longer strategically aligned with its group strategy and embarked on a public disposal process in April 2013, before ultimately placing the operation on care and maintenance in December. NCC’s most recent operations, which focused on its Diepspruit resource, were contiguous to Universal Coal’s Roodekop coal resource. Universal believes the combination of ICN I March 2014

A truck offloading coal for use in the cold commissioning of the BC1/BC2 process circuit.

NCC’s operations with the Roodekop deposit will enable the extension of NCC’s life of mine to 2030. Roodekop has an estimated LoM of 15 years, eight years of which will be open pit and will allow Universal Coal to integrate Roodekop into the NCC mining infrastructure. Meanwhile, Universal is closing in on maiden coal from its Kangala mine, about 65km from Johannesburg in South Africa. The company expected coal to be coming in February, however, as International Coal News was going to press, there had been no news on the maiden production. Cold commissioning of the BC1/BC2 circuit of the processing plant was completed in December, allowing hot commissioning to start. The circuit will take the bulk of the mine’s coal. The box cut continues to progress, with coal having been mined and sent to ROM stockpiles at the plant over the past three months. The BC1/BC2 seam, which constitutes the majority of the coal at Kangala, is being used to hot commission the crushing and screening plant. Coal will be treated using a dual processing circuit comprising the dense media separation washing and BC1/BC2 crushing and screening. First coal was due to pass through the crushing and screening circuit on January 23. Optimisation of the plant is continuing to ensure efficient operation prior to maiden production in February.

Offsite construction of the DMS plant is progressing well and is ahead of schedule. Delivery and installation of the DMS plant is due to start in mid-February. The mine is connected to Eskom power grid and all operations needing electricity are drawing from the internal power reticulation system. The lining of the pollution control dam is complete and polluted water from the pit is being pumped into the dam. Dirty water cut-off drains are being built to divert any polluted water into the dam. The paved product delivery haul road is on schedule, with construction of the intersection with the R42 public road starting. Installation of the black top surface of the road has also begun. Drawdown on the Kangala mine project finance facility from Rand Merchant Bank continues in line with forecasts. According to Universal Coal, the project remains within capital budget estimates and there are no indications of any potential cost overruns. Kangala is expected to produce 2.1 million tonnes per annum of saleable thermal coal with 2Mtpa allocated for South African electricity utility Eskom. The remaining 100,000tpa will be allocated for export with South African coal miner Exxaro. At a capital cost of $A46.8 million, the operation is expected to supply an estimated average of $15 million earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation ICN per year. 17


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THE drifts driveage at Aquila Resources’ 50%-owned Eagle Downs hard coking coal project in Queensland will be completed by contractor WDS using two 300-kilowatt roadheaders specifically engineered to meet the requirements of the contract, including onboard roof-bolting and shotcrete tunnel lining capabilities. The $142.8 million drifts contract will make use of WDS’ experience in providing similar drifts in New South Wales and Queensland. Construction of the drifts is a critical path development task, representing an important development milestone, with project completion scheduled to occur in the first half of 2017. Brazilian giant Vale is the equal joint venture partner with Aquila on the project, making up Eagle Downs Coal Management. WDS CEO Terry Chapman said the project built on WDS’ diverse underground service offerings. “Working with EDCM on the delivery of the new underground coking coal mine also provides us with an opportunity to showcase our world class delivery capability in terms of both engineering and operations,” he said. The contract is primarily a rates-based one with relevant works planned to have duration of just more than two years. The contract covers the construction of two drifts extending on a decline approximately 2km to a vertical depth of 270m. One of the drifts is for men and materials and the second is for the mine drift conveyor. The contract also includes installation of all the permanent mine services pipelines. In addition to the Harrow Creek Upper coal seam, the drifts will be used in the future to gain access to other coal seams where reserves have been identified. Further work will be undertaken to progress additional tenders and negotiations for other major work packages, including the establishment of site power and raw water supply, ventilation shafts, development and longwall equipment, underground conveyors and the coal handling and preparation plant – including rail loop and loading ICN facilities. March 2014 I ICN


News

Narrabri’s record run WHITEHAVEN Coal’s Narrabri longwall operation produced a record 3.29 million tonnes run of mine for the recent half – 109% higher year on year and a rate that is almost 10% above the mine’s nameplate capacity. The North Narrabri longwall mine’s capacity is 6Mt per annum ROM with the mine’s record weekly production of 193,000t ROM during the half equating to a whopping 10Mtpa on an annualised basis. Whitehaven provided some details on how the beyond-design production rates were achieved. “With the mine operating above nameplate capacity, surface infrastructure has been enhanced with the original bypass circuit, which allows crushed ROM coal to be placed directly onto the product stockpile, being recommissioned during the period,” Whitehaven said in its half-yearly report. “When combined with the coal handling and preparation plant this provides increased capacity and flexibility to deliver the required product mix.” The second panel was mined out in January and more records for the young mine could be shattered in the coming months.

ICN I September 2011

After all, Whitehaven’s best results so far came despite some technical setbacks. “During the half, a team of technical experts from Caterpillar resolved the remaining technical issues with the longwall [and] the shearer was successfully modified during the change-out to rectify rollback and bi-directional cutting commenced at the end of August 2013,” Whitehaven said. Narrabri’s saleable coal production reached 2.86Mt for the recent half, which was a 138% gain on the corresponding period of the previous year. However, it is not the full story as Narrabri’s output of the higher premiumcommanding pulverised coal injection grade of metallurgical coal grows. “Another significant achievement for the future of the mine was that following the success of the blending strategy, additional production of PCI coal can be planned,” Whitehaven said. “Whitehaven anticipates that the mine will be able to produce and sell about 850,000t of PCI coal in full year 2014 with further upside possible in the future.”

In another achievement, the Gunnedah Basin coal producer increased the capacity of its Werris Creek open cut mine from 2Mtpa to 2.5Mtpa during the recent half. Groupwide production totalled 4.64Mt ROM, a 32% year-on-year gain, while the saleable production of 4.08Mt was up 37% year on year. Whitehaven’s financial results were not as rosy as it expanded, including development of the vast Maules Creek coal project, during a downturn in coal prices. The company made a net loss of $A11.6 million for the recent half – which was still a 76% improvement year on year. Its preferred result was the $50.8 million it generated in the recent half for operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation when excluding significant items. This outcome was 747% higher than the $6 million the measure scored for the corresponding period of 2012. Revenue also improved markedly, with Whitehaven clocking up $402.2 million in the last six months of 2013 – 43% up year ICN on year.

19


LONGWALLS

Springvale springs back to life Centennial Coal’s Springvale colliery has been given a fresh lease of life with the commissioning of its next-generation longwall. The company is using new longwall technology to help it achieve better productivity at the mine as it seeks to lower operating costs across the group. By Lou Caruana

20

March 2014 I ICN


S

pringvale colliery has been drawing some of the limelight from its sister operation at nearby Angus Place since the Joy longwall was installed late last year. The mine is hitting its straps and emerging as a major contributor to productivity in Centennial’s New South Wales stable of coal mines. Thai energy group Banpu wholly acquired

Centennial Coal in 2010, which mines and supplies thermal coal and coking coal to the domestic and export markets. It operates seven coal mines, both underground and open pit, in the north and west of NSW, with a total annual production capacity of about 18 million tonnes. Springvale, along with Centennial Coal’s Angus Place and Clarence, lie in the NSW western district near Lithgow.

Short-term issues at Springvale and Centennial’s Mandalong mine in the northern district during the 2013 third quarter reduced production and accordingly increased unit costs. Centennial Coal’s Q3 sales volumes dropped 15% quarter on quarter to 3.22Mt. Its average selling price was sustained at $A70.90 per tonne, which was 5% higher year on year with gross profit margin at 29%, The longwall before assembly underground at Centennial Coal’s Springvale colliery.

ICN I March 2014

21


LONGWALLS

The Springvale longwall underground.

• BroadBand Long Life Chain 42mm twin centre strand broadband

compared with 32% in the corresponding 2012 quarter. Sales revenue for Q3 was $US214.37 million compared to $298.08 million for the previous corresponding period. Gross profit for Centennial in Q3 was $61.25 million compared to $96.19 million in the previous corresponding quarter. Following the closure of the Airly and Mannering mines and other cost cutting measures, the company has removed $A100 million from the 2013 cost base when compared with 2012. Despite these measures, the combination of a high Australia-US dollar exchange rate and soft export prices together with short-term issues at Springvale and Mandalong means Centennial is expected to report a loss for 2013. Springvale continued to experience challenging mining conditions during the Q3 2013, resulting in decision to move to the new longwall sooner than anticipated. Difficult mining conditions also impacted the previous longwall at Springvale. Another hiccup came from the bushfires that raged through NSW during the early part of the fourth quarter, resulting in five days lost output at Clarence and Springvale, with the rail network affected for two weeks.

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SPRINGVALE LONGWALL

FACE AND MINE DESCRIPTION • Company Centennial Coal • State/coalfield NSW Western Coalfields • Width, metres (m) 251.3 • Length, metres (m) 2540

ROOF SUPPORTS • Ratings in tonnes Gate ends 8 off 1200t, run of face 137 off 1156t • Width 1.75m • Height range 1.8-3.6m

ARMOURED FACE CONVEYORS • AFC linepans 900mm Raceway x 304mm high x 1756 long x 139 linepans • AFC transmissions L1000EP & L1000BP with 855 kilowatt motors • AFC couplings Voith TTT 562

OUTBYE EQUIPMENT • Stageloaders 1000mm Raceway 38mm mid-board strand broadband chain/s300E gearbox/Voith 562 TUVF coupling/250kW motor • Crushers S503HD gearbox/Voith 562 TUVF coupling/250kW motor • Mobile belt tail pieces 1200mm fixed drum Matildas with 1100mm overlap

22

The commissioning of the next generation longwall at Springvale has been completed with production ramping up. The next generation high-productivity longwall is comparable to that installed at Angus Place, with the company expecting similar improvements. The longwall is designed for Springvale conditions and the mine design and layout reengineered to address poor roof areas. The longwall face width has also been reduced for improved face control. March 2014 I ICN


SHEARER • Shearer model no 7LS2A/3A As a result of recent poor geological conditions and consequently low productivity rates from the 20-year-old longwall equipment, a decision was made to cease production in longwall block LW415, approximately 200m early.

Australia, Europe, Asia and the US. The longwall face is 251m long, powered by a 4.5 megavolt ampere substation and three 309 litre per minute high pressure hydraulic pumps. Services to the longwall face are handled by a 547m long monorail system.

Following installation of the latest generation longwall, Springvale’s productive capacity matches that of the neighbouring Angus Place mine. Production commenced in the adjacent block (LW416), where the equipment had been pre-installed and commissioned, with the longwall already demonstrating its productive capability. Following installation of the latest generation longwall, Springvale’s productive capacity matches that of the neighbouring Angus Place mine. Over the past two years Centennial Coal’s Springvale mine has been in the process of purchasing a complete Joy Global manufactured longwall mining system. The system is a “life of mine” investment for Springvale and will be used for the next 20 years. A total of 727,000t of steel was used in the manufacturing process, which was completed in

The system can potentially fully automate the cutting cycle and includes the Longwall Automation Steering Committee inertial navigation system onboard the shearer to assist in face control. “Together, the monorail system and new longwall provides Springvale with a modern, more effective and efficient longwall operation,” Banpu said. The supports handle the geological conditions well with better tip to face and increased support integrity compared to the previous equipment. The longwall has progressed through the lithology change without problems and the supports are dealing well with poor tailgate conditions. No cavities have been experienced since introduction of those supports.

• Cutting height 3.2m • Machine height 1.333m • Machine weight 50t • Frame thickness 588mm • Haulage pull 160kW • Maximum haulage speed 30 m/min • Pump motor 11kW • Haulage motor 80kW • Lumpbreaker motor N/A • Ranging arm model no J525F • Length of ranging arm 3m • Cutting motor 60 hertz (max) 50Hz 480kW • Minimum drum diameter 2.050m • Minimum drum width 1.064m • Drum speed (60Hz) 41rpm/50Hz

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LONGWALLS

Centennial is ramping up longwall production at Springvale.

Cutting rates have improved to more than 1000 tonnes per hour due to the introduction of the equipment, compared with the previous longwall, which was operating at approximately 700-800tph. The rates will improve further with a belt upgrade (speed up).

FUTURE Springvale proposes to extend its underground mining operations within its approved mining lease and exploration licence areas to the east and the southwest of its existing operations. Springvale’s development consent will expire in 2014. Accordingly, Centennial

is seeking a renewal in order to continue mining. Under the consent renewal, Springvale is proposing to upgrade existing site infrastructure, continue underground mining operations with an increase in the mine’s coal extraction capacity from 3.5 million tonnes per annum to 4.5Mtpa and to amalgamate the mine’s coal processing and distribution network into Centennial’s Western Coal Services operations. The project will allow the mine to continue operating and secure local jobs, while the local and regional community will also continue to benefit from the mine’s positive economic

contribution. Centennial is proposing to upgrade the existing infrastructure within the Western Coal Services site. Located north of Lithgow near Blackmans Flat, the project is being developed to provide an upgraded, integrated approach to coal handling and distribution between Centennial’s western operations. The facility receives coal by overland conveyor from Springvale and provides coal storage, handling and processing functions. Coal can be transported by overland conveyor to either Mt Piper Power Station to the north or Lidsdale rail siding to ICN the south.

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March 2014 I ICN


A PINT WITH…

Donna Sheehy Donna Sheehy is exploration manager for New Age Exploration, fossicking for coal in “Mother England” and among the heather in Scotland. A highly credentialled and experienced professional, she spoke to Lou Caruana about her career and experiences in the UK. Would you be able to give me a snapshot of your role as exploration manager with New Age Exploration? My role is to deliver all aspects of the exploration program for coking coal in the Canonbie coalfield. This involves all aspects of exploration from drilling contracts, data management, team development through to establishing a UK office, community liaison and budgeting. The role has a broad scope of responsibility but I have an excellent local team and strong support from our Melbournebased team. How does the geology in the UK where NAE’s Lochinvar project is located differ from that of Australia? The geology in the UK is not vastly different, the major elements are the intriguing reddening of fresh unweathered lower units, making the geology visually very different to the standard grey lithology below the surface in Australia. The fossils are also of greater abundance and provide excellent markers to know where you are in the geological sequence. Otherwise, there are no great differences and the same principles and timelines apply. You were formerly a manager for Cockatoo Coal at Hume in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. Does the English countryside remind you of the Southern Highlands? I was NSW geology manager at Cockatoo. Very much so, the Southern Highlands of NSW have beautiful green rolling hills and a quite cold climate but the outstanding beauty of the English and Scottish Highlands cannot be surpassed. I have been here for five months and cannot resist stopping on the journey up to Edinburgh to soak in the gorgeous mountains and terrain. You have also worked as a geologist for major companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. What was the nature of your work for these companies and how does your present role in a smaller company differ from this? For BHP I was superintendent of geology, survey and geotech on the team that delivered the Daunia resource through final ICN I March 2014

exploration into becoming an open cut mine. With Rio Tinto I consulted across various projects. While the geological aspects stay the same the joy of the smaller company is the freedom to use the breadth of your experience into other aspects of the project. This drives you to be more creative and adaptable as you simply don’t have the enormous budgets and huge numbers of staff to delegate to. With New Age I have the privilege of working directly with the CEO, upper management and drawing from the wealth of hindsight our board brings – an honour rarely available, given the calibre of our board. I have found communication in a smaller company is outstanding. The team at New Age Exploration, being mostly drawn from larger entities, all have vast depths of experience and are flourishing in the privileges of a close team environment where each person knows what a big impact we have on the company’s projects, is sincerely appreciated and enjoys working to deliver a joint vision. On the whole I am sure the entire team find this very motivating and never boring. The experience with the large blue chip companies really provides a valuable foundation, strong skill level and develops a level of knowledge that can only be fully realised by more junior entities as they have the flexibility to allow each person’s true value to be realised and utilised. The overriding difference is that the role in a junior explorer becomes more than a job. You wholeheartedly celebrate the wins and work through the challenges together, the rewards seem so much richer and really do stem from achievements that you know the whole team have earned. Do you feel that women should be encouraged to pursue geology as a career? Most definitely. We bring an alternative aspect to the industry, not better or worse, just a different approach, which strengthens any project. Geology is a career that doesn’t get held back by gender, age or physical ability and one where everyone starts on equal footing. You can travel the world or work from home.

Donna Sheehy

The variety of commodities, public projects and research extents take geologists into careers that have them working at the bottom of the ocean to the moon and everywhere in between, so the choices are outstanding. You are a member of Women in Mining and Women in Technology. What are the aims of these two groups and what benefits do they offer to its members? I can’t speak for these groups but can speak from experience in them. Women are quite low in total numbers in the mining and technology industries, these groups provide an excellent opportunity to network and learn from the experience of other women. At times you can be the only female in a crew of hundreds, so contact with other women who understand the demands, challenges and opportunities of the industry is healthy. I am not a feminist or ever been concerned for equal rights, I’ve always worked on the premise of deeds not words, so neither group membership has been with that aspect in mind for me. Men often have boys’ clubs. I view both of these groups as somewhat of a boys’ type club for the girls. I do know they offer great opportunities to expose women to industries they may have traditionally not even noticed and provide direction and support to foster personal growth and pleasure in one’s career. So while I found it as a sisterhood-type group to gain mentoring and encouragement, for many it is an opening to a wide expanse of opportunity, education and new horizons. Are there any stumbling blocks that still need to be removed? I don’t really know of any but that has been my experience. I’m sure other women would have lists of stumbling blocks. My only stumbling block has been my own perception of where women work. However, the first time I set foot in a mine I realised this was just my own perception. I haven’t changed as a woman working in male-dominated industry. I still spend too much money at the hairdressers, paint my 25


A PINT WITH…

nails and I have two grown children and a husband who knows I like to have the door opened for me. In 2006, you were the winner of Business Innovation Award – PricewaterhouseCoopers. Why did you receive this award? I am the co-author of a 20-year monopoly patent on a greenhouse-friendly soil technology, held in most countries around the world. After co-inventing this technology I went on to start a company that grew from $200,000 in value to more than $11 million in value in just a few years. During this journey, I wrote the company’s business plan and, with a great team behind me, went on to open quarries, raise capital and build an outstanding business. While all of these achievements earned me the PwC award, I found my greatest learning and experience came during the global financial crisis, where the closing of the company taught more than growing it ever could have. NAE has rapidly advanced its Lochinvar project with the initial JORC inferred resource of 112 million tonnes released in October. This must be satisfying for you and your team. What was involved?

A whole team’s dedication to delivering excellence and strong motivation, including our consulting companies, who we too often forget are consultants – they are all very proud of this project and as motivated as the staff team. The Phase 1a drilling program delivered sufficient data for collation with historic drilling and historic seismic survey. After extensive work by all members of the team the geological model defined the inferred extent of the resource plus additional target resource. An outstanding and very pleasing outcome for all involved. Lochinvar has the potential to produce a low-ash high-volatile coking coal at high yields. This is a bit like exporting coals to Newcastle – an Aussie company setting up a coal mine in UK. Do you think the Australian industry has a lot of expertise in coal mining and exploration to share with the rest of the world? The interesting thing here is that while Australia is definitely recognised as one of the global leaders of coal exploration and mining, the downturn of the UK industry is one of the major drivers behind the level of expertise achieved in Australia today. As the industry largely reduced in the UK 30 years ago many of the industry frontrunners

took their knowledge to Australia and helped build the industry Australia enjoys today. It is definitely not uncommon on an Australian mine or exploration project to hear English and Scottish accents among the teams driving operations to success. Bringing the knowledge home to the UK has also led to many of the remaining industry leaders here re-emerging and warmly sharing their knowledge, helping to breathe new life back into UK coking coal. Although coking coal drastically faded away, the remaining UK coal producers are still respected globally for their depth of knowledge and skills. When you’re not conducting geological surveys, how do you relax? I have simply fallen for the stunning countryside in Scotland and England, every possible moment I am off to explore the beautiful villages and historic buildings. Whenever possible I try to get over to Europe to lose myself in the foreign languages and fabulous food. The depth of history here and age of buildings has me amazed. Australia has such a brief built history, so soaking in the culture and beauty of the UK is a wonderful way to relax. I am very spoilt to have the opportunity ICN to live, work and play in the UK.

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March 2014 I AL


IN BRIEF

ROUND-UP Industry supports Abbot Point dredging decision

Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche.

THE Great Barrier Reef Authority has allowed the World Heritage precinct to be treated as a dumping ground, the Greens say. However, the Queensland Resources Council says a report identifies impacts from Abbot Point port development and dredging as minor, temporary and localised. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority allowed dredge spoil dumping in the reef for the Abbot Point coal port expansion – a decision that has attracted international attention. The Australian government’s progress report to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef outlines the progress made in the past 12 months to deliver on its requests concerning the management of

Qld coal exporters band together against Gladstone port QUEENSLAND coal exporters will have more leverage to negotiate agreements with the Gladstone Ports Corporation after the competition watchdog allowed a coal producer group to bargain collectively. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission granted interim authorisation for the RG Tanna Coal Export Terminal Producers to negotiate with GPC over terms and conditions of new coal handling and port services agreements. The RG Tanna Coal Export Terminal Producers is made up of Anglo American Australia, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, Cockatoo Coal, Glencore, Idemitsu Australia Resources, Jellinbah Resources, Rio Tinto Coal Australia, Sojitz Coal Mining, Wesfarmers Resources and Yancoal Australia. ACCC commissioner Dr Jill Walker said the applicants requested interim authorisation on the basis that GPC had started the negotiation process for the coal handling and port services agreements. “In granting interim authorisation, the ACCC considers that there is benefit in allowing the parties to begin to jointly negotiate to ensure there are no unnecessary delays in putting in place appropriate arrangements in respect of the terminals and the channel infrastructure, particularly given that new users of the port would like to commence shipping soon,” she said. Interim authorisation allows the applicants to immediately commence collective negotiations with GPC, while the ACCC assesses the substantive application for authorisation.

Chain Valley milestone THE New South Wales government has approved Chain Valley’s miniwall mining extension project and minor changes to the Austar and Angus Place operations. In a decision made on December 23, the LDO Coal-owned and operated Chain Valley mine near Lake Macquarie received approval to lift production from 1.2 million tonnes per annum to 1.5Mtpa. It will also be able to continue mining to ICN I March 2014

2027, with the previous consent expiring in 2016. While there were some “moderate” subsidence-related concerns, planning department authorities aimed to carefully review extraction plans further along the mine life, especially for miniwall panels 41-45. In the previous week (December 17), Yancoal’s Austar longwall top coal caving operation in the Hunter Valley received approval to lengthen four previously approved panels.

the reef, according to QRC CEO Michael Roche. “The State Party Report again documents the real threats to the reef as being extreme weather events, the potential effects of climate change, the crown of thorns starfish infestations and nutrient and sediment run-off from land clearing and broad-scale agriculture,” he said. “Flying in the face of the hysterical reaction from some quarters to the granting on Friday [January 31] of a dredging permit at Abbot Point, the State Party Report identifies impacts from port development and dredging as minor, temporary and localised.” Roche said the report documented the severe impacts of cyclones and the resultant flood plumes. It also outlined the measures being pursued with industry support to further enhance shipping safety and reduce the environmental impacts of shipping, under the northeast shipping management plan.

Ex-RIO CEO to head GVK Hancock FORMER Rio Tinto Coal acting CEO and chief operating officer Darren Yeates is expected to bring the GVK Hancock joint venture’s Galilee Basin mining projects to the final development stage after being appointed CEO. He replaces outgoing managing director Paul Mulder who held the position for six years, with two of those years being on secondment from Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting. Yeates has more than 30 years experience in coal mining operations, mine infrastructure and resource sector industries. GVK Power and Infrastructure chairman and managing director Dr GVK Reddy said Yeates played a critical role in managing ports and infrastructure in the Pilbara and brought leadership and operational experience from leading Australian mining operations. “I am very pleased with the extensive leadership and experience that Mr Yeates will bring to our organisation,” Reddy said. “I am extremely confident that Mr Yeates’ in-depth operational and project management experience will complement our existing management team and drive our Galilee Basin projects to operational reality.” 27


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IN BRIEF

NuCoal Resources CEO Glen Lewis.

NuCoal to fight govt with last $7.8M NUCOAL Resources intends to use the $7.8 million in cash it has in its books to mount a legal challenge against the New South Wales government’s decision to expunge its Doyles Creek licence and to scout around the world for other mining leases, CEO Glen Lewis says.

At the end of January the state government passed legislation that removed NuCoal’s licence as well as that for Cascade Coal’s Mt Penny and Glendon Brook leases. Lewis said the company bore the brunt of the decision by the NSW government to follow the advice of the Independent Commission Against Corruption – despite the company being innocent – but it had resolved to not lie down and accept the decision. “We intend to fight for the rights of our shareholders as well as progress other projects and also seek to acquire additional projects both interstate and overseas,” Lewis said. “We are a small company so don’t have high overheads, so the cash will last well into 2015.” Lewis estimates the company also has other assets, such as land worth more than $8 million, including the Dellworth and Savoy Hill leases. Another feature of the legislation is that it takes from NuCoal all its accumulated exploration data, which was obtained via the expenditure of more than $40 million. It also gives the state government the right to provide NuCoal’s data to new bidders for the Doyles Creek area when it puts the area back out to tender.

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September 2014

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Palmer’s $6.4B China First project gets green light WARATAH Coal’s proposed $6.4 billion China First coal mine, rail and infrastructure development in Queensland’s Galilee Basin has had its environmental impact statement approved. The Brisbane-based company, a fully owned subsidiary of Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy group, plans to build a thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin coal region near Alpha, west of Emerald, as part of its China First project. The mine will be linked to a proposed coal terminal at Abbot Point by a new 453km standard-gauge heavy-haul railway capable of carrying 400 million tonnes per annum of coal, which provides sufficient capacity to cater for all proposed Galilee Basin proponents. Establishing the mine, rail and associated infrastructure will create 3500 jobs during construction and 2275 during operation in a massive boost to the state and national economies. Waratah Coal managing director Nui Harris said the environmental impact statement approval by federal Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Minister Greg Hunt was an important milestone for the project.

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March 2014 I ICN


Austar production rocked by force majeure

BHP ramps up Qld met coal productivity

YANCOAL is rating its Abel underground operation as the highest production bord and pillar mine in Australia, while its Austar longwall mine only recently resumed production after a difficult roof-triggered force majeure period. Revealed in its December quarter results, Yancoal said Austar encountered challenges in ramping up production in the stage 3 area after hitting record production in the September quarter. “Difficult roof conditions resulted in a sales force majeure situation in December 2013, which was subsequently lifted in January 2014,” Yancoal said. “Although conditions for both longwall mining and development remain challenging in the new area, it is anticipated that when all the associated infrastructure for stage three is completed in the June quarter 2014, mining conditions will improve significantly and production rates should increase. “One longwall move is planned for 2014 and is scheduled for the June quarter. “With any such longwall move there are potential short-term risks to production budgets.” The setbacks reduced Austar’s saleable coal production by 24% year on year to 334,000 tonnes for the December quarter, while the run of mine result was 34% lower to 643,000t.

BHP Billiton’s Queensland Coal division has achieved record half-year production, with several initiatives boosting annualised production to 68 million tonnes in the December 2013 quarter. The company reported record production at its South Walker Creek, Saraji and Poitrel mines. The story was not so good at its New South Wales metallurgical coal operations in the Illawarra though. Illawarra Coal production declined by 13% in the December 2013 half year, due to an extended

Moranbah decision paves way for Caval Ridge project QUEENSLAND Coordinator General Barry Broe has intervened on an issue holding up BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s $3.7 billion Caval Ridge mine by approving changes to an accommodation village near Moranbah that houses employees for the project. Caval Ridge mine was declared a prescribed project on September 17, enabling the coordinator general to “step in” to become the decision-maker following concerns that proposed changes were being unnecessarily delayed by the local council. Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said BMA had expressed concern that a number of the conditions imposed by council were inconsistent with conditions previously set by the coordinator general. “There were also questions regarding the reasonableness and relevance of some of these conditions,” he said. “I am confident that in making this decision, the coordinator general has thoroughly reviewed all available information and consulted appropriately with all parties on this challenging matter for the community.” ICN I March 2014

outage at Dendrobium and a scheduled longwall move at West Cliff in the September quarter. “Operations are expected to return to normal production levels by the end of the March 2014 quarter,” the company said. Overall, half-yearly metallurgical coal production increased 22% to 21.7Mt while energy coal was down by 1% to 37.4Mt. The company needed to ramp up production during the period to offset the lower prices for both metallurgical and thermal coal. Metallurgical coal average released prices were down 18% and thermal coal prices were down 11% for the December half compared to the previous corresponding period.

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LONGWALL LARRIKIN Geoff Newby

Geoff Newby Geoff Newby was deputy manager of Eickhoff Australia before hanging up his boots in December. He has a 45year career, which started with 16 years at the Wath Main Colliery, to ponder as he pursues his greatest passion – fishing. What is your earliest mining memory? I lived in a mining area in Mexborough in South Yorkshire. There was a coal mine around every corner, While none of my close family were coal miners, my dad worked on a coal preparation plant at Wath Main Colliery. What made you choose mining as a career? Before leaving school we had careers talks and mining was part of this. Although I wanted to be a plumber, my dad arranged for me an interview for an electrical apprenticeship at Wath Main Colliery and along I went. I also had an interview for a plumbing apprenticeship and was fortunate to be offered both. I am the oldest of nine kids and the first to start work, so the decision was based on the wage. The plumbing was £3.50 and the electrical was £6.50 so I went for the cash and left school at Easter 1969. I was fifteen-and-a-half when I started. When was your first underground visit? My first underground visit was at Manvers coal mine underground training seam during my 20 days underground close personal supervision. This was also my wife’s first and only underground visit as she worked in the typing pool at Manvers head offices. What was your favourite job in a coal mine? I enjoyed being a longwall face electrician. What was your least favourite job? Weekend plant maintenance checking the fans in the development headings. All the headings where single entry and you had to stop the fans every weekend to check the gap between the blades and the fan casing. Who, or what, has most influenced your mining career? My mining career has taken several turns during my life and many people have made me think along the way. I thought I would work at Wath Main colliery all my life until 1984, when the 13-month mining strike intervened and changed the life of thousands of people. Personally, I grew up during the strike and realised it was up to me and not Arthur Scargill to look after my family. I took a voluntary redundancy in October 1985, six months after the mining strike. 32

I finished on a Friday from the mine and started on the following Monday with Anderson Longwall in Sheffield building AB16 Shearers and worked in their workshop for three years. This is what I remember as the most enjoyable time of my working life. I then accepted a position as a service engineer with Anderson and this was another life-changing experience. The coal industry was falling away in Great Britain so Anderson concentrated on the overseas market. After long stints in China and America as a service engineer, they sent me to Australia to assist with automation on an AM500 Shearer at Westcliff colliery near Wollongong. That is when I thought Australia was the place for me and my family, and after long talks with my wife we decided to apply for immigration to Australia. A position for a service engineer came up during this time with Anderson based in Queensland so I applied for it and was successful. That was another key milestone in our lives and was influenced by my boss at the time, Terry Coggles, to whom I am eternally grateful for giving us the opportunity. The problem was we moved from the hustle and bustle of a very large mining area to Tieri, a very small mining town in Central Queensland. That was with my wife, Chris, and three daughters Lianne, Donna and Lauren who have now blessed us with three great son-in-laws and eight beautiful grand children. This was a bit of a culture shock to the family, whose perception of Australia was gained from the TV and my influence from Wollongong. However, we got through it and realise how fortunate we are to be living in the best country in the world. What do you consider your best mining achievement? Probably installing the first Anderson Shearer in Queensland at Oaky No.1 mine and being the only person from the company based in Queensland. What do you see as being the greatest mining development during your career? From a longwall perspective, data communication between equipment allowing operators less time in the dust and away from moving equipment such as roof supports.

It is opening up more opportunities for improvement to make mining safer. Do you hold any mining records? Singing karaoke at a Yepoon longwall conference: These Boots Were Made For Walking. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? In mining, no. In my passion for fishing, yes. What was your most embarrassing moment in a coal mine? Tough one to remember, there has been that many. What was your scariest time in a coal mine? There was reportedly a ghost seen in some old workings at the mine I was working. Wath Main was more than 100 years old and I used to get some weekend overtime checking the pumps in the old workings on my own. I was doing a repair on a cable when I caught this light out of the corner of my eye and I froze not daring to look up knowing I was the only person on the district. Every time I move my head slightly I saw the light, eventually I plucked up the courage to look. It was a reflective sign and when I moved my head slightly, the light caught it. What is your worst memory of coal mining? We were moving roof supports on a longwall when I worked at Wath Main and as they were spinning a roof support down the face, I was pinned between the tip of the canopy and a steel leg. I thought it had busted me open but luckily the fluid running down my leg was not blood. I was carried out of the mine and taken to hospital but it was only bruising. Do you think that the day of the fully automated remotely operated face is near? In my latest position working with Eickhoff it has been a question that is discussed many times over. To me, the goal should not be a fully automated longwall as I believe there will always have to be personnel to some degree on a longwall. The goal should be to reduce the exposure of the operators to the hazards of longwall mining. It is that old cliche of how do you eat an elephant? One ICN bite at a time. March 2014 I ICN


HUNTER VALLEY

Biochar pot trails.

Helping Hunter farmers Coal & Allied’s Bengalla mine in the Hunter Valley hopes to make allies of local farmers by sponsoring a four-year Soil Carbon Community Project to help improve soil carbon and agricultural productivity in the region.

I

n a partnership between Bengalla mine, the University of Newcastle, HunterCentral Rivers Catchment Management Authority, BDM Resources and regional landowners, the project aims to improve land use through increasing soil carbon sequestration – the removal of carbon from the atmosphere by storing it in soil. Bengalla environmental specialist Amy Harburg said soil carbon was reported to have a positive influence on the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of soil. “In addition, soil carbon sequestration has the potential to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil,” she said. “The project is now in its second year and has moved into a maintenance phase with landholders after securing participants, farm planning, sampling and analysis and educational workshops. The maintenance phase has involved farmers touring the region and attending meetings and events to develop a greater understanding of holistic or conservation farming practices. “Recently a group of 17 farmers attended a two-day tour through the New England and North West Slopes and Plains of NSW, visiting properties that demonstrate the benefits of these farming practices including increased levels of soil carbon, improved landscape resilience, enhanced environmental services, improved human and animal welfare and improved productivity. “Bengalla is proud to facilitate transfers of ideas through the soil carbon project and farm tours and looks forward to seeing holistic farming ideas and practices from other productive farming areas being used to benefit the Upper Hunter.” Local farmer Ross Deery, who attended the tour, said the highlight was seeing how each

ICN I March 2014

farm was trying to implement innovative property management practices through pasture work and livestock management skills, all of which bore conservation and sustainable agricultural practices in mind. “The holistic approach to farm management and livestock production with low inputs appealed to me greatly as a sustainable form of agriculture,” he said. Hunter Central Rivers CMA’s Linda Russell, who has been involved in the project for the past two years and also attended the recent tour, said she knew personally how beneficial such events were. “It’s a great chance for farmers to get out of their own catchment and see ideas in action, ask questions and consider how they might apply similar practices on their own properties,” she said. “Facilitating learning between farmers, within and between catchments, is a key focus for the CMA and will continue to be as we transition to Local Land Services next year. “It’s really encouraging to witness participants in this project following their own path to changing management practices that will ultimately improve their soils and achieve better outcomes for the catchment.” BDM Resources project manager Shane Curry said building carbon levels in soil depended on a number of chemical, physical and biological components working in tandem. “The science indicates that increasing soil carbon levels can lead to improved agricultural productivity with the added bonus of removing carbon from the atmosphere,” Curry said. “The properties visited on the tour demonstrated increases in productivity and profitability on the back of reduced inputs

Bengalla environmental specialist Amy Harburg and BDM Resources project manager Shane Curry.

whilst delivering improved environmental outcomes. “It’s not easy, but these grazing systems built overtime on a foundation of perennial grasses can potentially generate significant increases in soil carbon levels, which is the ICN basis for our project.” 33


HUNTER VALLEY

A blow up for Mt Arthur One of BHP Billiton’s most prized assets in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley, the Mt Arthur thermal coal mine, is beginning to give the mine’s management environmental, industrial relations and safety headaches.

B

HP Billiton has a good record on production in the region. In the six months to December 2013, its NSW Energy Coal – which includes Mt Arthur – produced 9.9 million tonnes of coal compared to the 9.2Mt for the previous corresponding half. When the company’s Queensland metallurgical coal business was beset with industrial strife over bitter and enterprise bargaining negotiations, Mt Arthur powered on. However, things may be about to change, with the Queensland coal business starring in the company’s latest half yearly announcement and earning special praise from chief executive Andrew Mackenzie for cutting costs and ramping up production. Then there was the recent environmental issue.

Mt Arthur mine, which believes itself to be a good corporate citizen in the bucolic Hunter Valley surrounded with wineries and horse studs, prompted alarm among nearby residents who noticed that the sky had been turned bright orange after a blast. The ammonium nitrate and fuel oil used in the blast had been left in the the ground for 21 days, which is seven days longer than the recommended time in which blast material should be detonated. The delay was due to unfavourable weather conditions. Seemingly as a result of the ammonium nitrate/fuel oil being left in the ground longer than advised, the blast caused containing nitrogen dioxide to be dispersed for several kilometres – and one of the spectacular sunsets the region had seen for some time. The Environment Protection Authority is

investigating the blast, including the length of time the materials were left in the ground. According to other regulatory bodies, the incident was potentially serious. The Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines notes that “any atmosphere in which nitrogen dioxide is noticeable by smell, irritation and colour should be regarded as potentially dangerous”. “Blast fumes are the gases that may be generated during blasting,” a Queensland government coal miner’s fact sheet states. “Some of these gases can affect health, including oxides of nitrogen – nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO2 is the more toxic of the two.” A BHP spokeswoman told International Coal News magazine that on Wednesday, February 19, Mt Arthur Coal fired a blast

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HUNTER VALLEY

at its mine that resulted in fumes travelling towards the industrial estate on Thomas Mitchell Drive. According to NSW Energy Coal Asset president Peter Sharpe, the blast was timed to ensure the wind conditions would prevent any fume travelling offsite. “However, due to a change to conditions immediately after the blast, some fume did travel towards the industrial area,” he said. “Although the majority of fume from this blast had dispersed while onsite, there is the possibility that exposure could cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system. If anyone does have concerns as a precautionary measure they may wish to seek medical advice. “Mt Arthur Coal takes its environmental and community obligations very seriously and I would like to apologise to the community for any impacts they may experience from the blast.” The blast was the sixth undertaken by Mt Arthur Coal on that day and no similar impacts came from the other blasts, the company said. Local residents are questioning the regulatory supervision of blasting at Mt Arthur and other Hunter Valley mines. The NSW Department of Planning was taken to task by local residents in 2012 after

36

While blasting is a fairly normal activity on a minesite, a recent blast at Mt Arthur turned sour for the mine.

Coal & Allied Mt Thorley Warkworth mine was responsible for a blast cloud. The department responded that the mine operator was not required to advise the department of forthcoming blasts. However, the company advised motorists of the blast ahead of time and suggested alternative routes until the road was reopened. The department has an office in Singleton to monitor any breaches of blast or dust breach guidelines and routinely asks operators such as Coal & Allied and BHP to provide reports on incidents that are then assessed by compliance officers against the mine’s conditions of approval. On the safety and rescue front, Mt Arthur has a strong reputation, having won the NSW 2013 open cut mines rescue competition. However, the NSW Trade & Investment mine safety branch has published an

investigation information release into a recent collision between a dozer and a light vehicle at Mt Arthur. A 100-tonne Caterpillar dozer reversed over a light vehicle that entered the work area of the dozer. The dual cabin utility was extensively crushed but the utility driver was not injured. The incident occurred on an access ramp during back blading works. Meanwhile Mt Arthur does not want to be collateral damage in a war between unions and rail company Aurzion. BHP has threatened to sue the union over planned stoppages for disruption of supply from Mt Arthur. A company spokeswoman told ICN that: “Mt Arthur Coal has written to the Rail, Bus and Tram Union requesting that any industrial action taken by their members does ICN not impact our business operations”.

March 2014 I ICN


HUNTER VALLEY An example of the Environmental Noise Compass to be installed at Mt Thorley Warkworth in the Hunter Valley.

Getting serious about noise management WITH pressure from nearby farming and residential centres, Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth mine will be the first mine to trial a cutting-edge noise monitoring system, with the aim of being more effective in real-time management of the problem. A directional noise-monitoring system will be installed in the southern area of Bulga village in the coming weeks to assist with monitoring and managing noise from Mount Thorley Warkworth. Rio Tinto subsdiary Coal & Allied, which has operated in the Hunter Valley community for more than 165 years, manages three open cut coal mines. The Environmental Noise Compass will bolster Coal & Allied’s existing noise monitoring system, which involves eight monitoring devices surrounding Mount Thorley Warkworth, six surrounding Hunter Valley Operations and two at Bengalla. Developed by Acoustic Research Labs, the Environmental Noise Compass uses an array of 26 microphones and advanced acoustic signal-processing methods to detect and assess multiple noise sources in real time with greater accuracy. Mount Thorley Warkworth general manager of operations Cam Halfpenny said:“We are continually looking to improve the way in which we manage our activities and we’re proud to be the first mine to utilise this new technology.

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“We understand noise can be an issue for some of our neighbours. Investing in this cutting-edge technology is another demonstration of our commitment to continuous improvement and effective noise management.”

cases, shutting down equipment,” Speechly said. “This initiative complements other measures applied at Coal & Allied operations to better manage impacts on the community, including shutdowns and machinery

“Noise alarms will be established to alert the operation of elevated noise levels, which will be responded to in the same way as for our existing noise-monitoring network, including relocating equipment and, in some cases, shutting down equipment.” – Coal & Allied NSW environmental services manager Andrew Speechly Coal & Allied NSW environmental services manager Andrew Speechly said the monitoring system would let Mount Thorley Warkworth be more effective in its real-time management of noise by measuring the sound energy of mining activities as they happened and responding accordingly. “Following commissioning, noisemonitoring data will be fed back to Mount Thorley Warkworth operational staff in real time. Noise alarms will be established to alert the operation of elevated noise levels, which will be responded to in the same way as for our existing noise-monitoring network, including relocating equipment and, in some

modifications like the installation of ‘quackers’ that operate at a lower frequency, reducing the long distance audibility of trucks reversing.” Acoustic Research Labs CEO Ken Williams said the system was a first-of-class in environmental noise monitoring, applying advanced military processing techniques in a new and innovative way. The technology is derived from military techniques but has not been applied in a mining context before. Coal & Allied’s community development funds have invested more than $15 million in the Hunter Valley and have recommitted a ICN further $4.5 million over three years.

March 2014 I ICN


The HVCCC live run integration team that won the Lloyd’s Shipping award.

Slotting a win THE Hunter Valley Coal Chain live run integration team has been recognised with a Lloyds List Australian Maritime Industry Award for creating coal movement efficiencies along the local rail network. The live run integration team was formed in 2012 as a joint initiative by Hunter Valley Coal Chain’s coordinator and the region’s seven coal-handling service providers – Australian Rail Track Corporation, Pacific National, Aurizon, Freightliner Australia, Southern Shorthaul Railroad, Port Waratah Coal Services and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group. It includes the physical and virtual colocation of representatives from each organisation to ensure the execution of daily

coal movement plans overseen by HVCCC. The primary aim is to manage disruptions caused by breakdowns and other events, enabling recovery initiatives to be activated and throughput to be maximised. The team’s goal was to address recurring situations of flow-on impacts following train disruption events – problems that often resulted in congestion, disruption, late terminal arrivals and broad train cancellations. The team introduced the Slot Management solution in August, which resulted in trains working to specific slots from the mine load points. These slots can be shifted and interchanged on an as-need basis, enabling better response flexibility and maximising rail

movements when delays occur. As a result, the a majority of trains are arriving early or within an hour of their planned tipping times at Newcastle’s two terminals. Throughput loss rates have dropped to unprecedented lows under the system. Whereas yearly losses were averaging at 10% and sometimes peaking at 14%, losses in September were 4.2% – allowing a monthly terminal delivery record of 13.44 million tonnes to be set. Many other delivery records have also been broken under the Slot Management structure. HVCCC estimates that the implementation of the system will enable a further 4Mt to be delivered each year. This means delivery of additional export coal with a market value of about $280 million. “The Slot Management system is a cooperative and common-sense approach that has delivered extraordinary outcomes in a short timeframe, and at no additional cost to the industry,” HVCCC CEO Kirsten Molloy said. “The early results are a credit to all the individual organisations that have worked together to make the system possible. “We expect the positive outcomes will be accelerated as time progresses. “I am very proud of the role HVCCC have played in facilitating this result with the ICN service providers.”

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Belts & Conveyors

Clever conveying A 2km conveyor has helped Rio Tinto get its coal where it needs it, while touching lightly on the environment.

(Above) The conveyor system Ellton Group put in place for Rio Tinto spans a busy local road.

T

he 1400mm belt-conveyor system, rated at 2400 tonnes per hour, includes an overland conveyor and a skyline stacker system that eliminates the need for heavy trucks to transfer coal from another load-out facility during peak production The conveyor design also helped Rio Tinto Coal & Allied Hunter Valley Operations overcome environmental and structural challenges.

The system traverses reclaimed and subsidence-prone land to get the coal to an existing stockpile facility. Ellton Group director Mark Elliott said one of the many unique aspects of the design was the complete incorporation of an existing skyline gantry system within the structure. “The old gantry had a tripper running through it,” he said. “We built our new, higher-capacity structure around the existing tripper gantry,

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running the conveyor in the opposite direction, but sharing a radically improved and strengthened structure that easily and safely handles higher conveyor loadings, but is designed to minimise additional mass and wind loadings.” Working in consultation with Rio Tinto operations staff and their consultants, Ellton was able to evolve several options that made use of existing infrastructure while observing Rio’s strict environmental and safety standards. This, Elliott said, was demonstrated in the way Ellton repaired and strengthened existing trestles and piers to withstand greater loads. The solution included trestle structures and roof sections that were not only structurally independent of each other, but also independently adjustable in three dimensions if the need arose. One of the big challenges was that existing infrastructure had to be incorporated into the design. Some of those old gantry structures were stripped, refurbished, painted and refitted to standard and incorporated into the elevated stages of the overland conveyor. This not only saved money and reduced waste, it also cleaned up the site where they were previously located. The fully enclosed tipper feed structure now spans a busy local road,

“While we have had plent of experience, particularly in the Hunter Valley, we are not bound to old ways of doing things or regimented thinking that says we have to tear down everything that’s already tehre and start again.” removing the need for trucking by providing a clean, safe alternative. Adding to the degree of difficulty was the fact the upgrade works had to occur while the existing plant continued to operate. Additional wind and mass loading on the existing structure was minimised by adopting a “wrap around” gantry design to support the new conveyor and tripper. The gantry design had to be as light as possible while still allowing the existing tripper to operate inside the old gantry, both during and after construction. The design also incorporated extensive containment, and protection of the load and the environment around it. Besides full coverage of the conveyed load to minimise spillage and dust, the areas the overland conveyor traversed were protected by civil works such as bunding, side dish drains, channelling and settlement ponds. These works separate and redirect clean water run-off from the conveyor path. This avoids possible contamination, captures water emanating from the conveyor path and directs it to one of several dirty water settlement ponds along the route. By containing run-off and run-on, recycling is optimised and environmental contamination avoided. Elliott said Ellton was able to provide the solution for less than half the price Rio Tinto had expected. “That’s the sort of thing you can do as a younger, nimble and innovative supplier,” he said. “While we have had plenty of experience, particularly in the Hunter Valley, we are not bound to old ways of doing things or regimented thinking that says we have to tear down everything that’s already there and start again.” The whole conveyor set-up is driven by Bonfiglioli Power Pack heavy-duty fully coupled drive combinations. These were engineered for optimum ease of installation, rugged service and low maintenance. Mounting of the drives and take-ups at ground level, rather than with elevated drives and vertical take-ups, makes for safety and easier ICN maintenance. ICN I March 2014

Safer, Cleaner More Productive Bulk Material Handling Increased Production demands have resulted in faster, wider, more heavily loaded conveyors resulting in increased carryback. Carry-Back under the belt, and on structures, increases replacement, maintenance, clean up costs and OH&S risks. More often then not, this issue can be tackled at the head pulley by installing a scraper, however a single cleaner is no longer enough to meet industry standards without risk or damage to the conveyor belt and production.

TOTAL MATERIAL CONTROL® is achievable with an ESS Conveyor Belt Cleaning System. Experience unparalleled cleaning performancewith the XHD Durt unpa Tracker Primary Cleaner featuring the patented “Key Safe” Blade extraction system and ESS InLine Cleaner with patented blade design and withdrawal cartridge, allowing blade replacement in minutes. All of this is achievable when utilising ESS Equipment, Service and or Training to achieved a systematic approach to achieve the TMC® Goal. Your Plant will experience: -Reduced manual handling and confined space risks. -Reduces risks to the environment and personnel posed by carryback -Reduces clean-up costs -Reduces consumable hardware costs and improved operational life of conveying components. -Reduces risk of damage to the conveyor belt surface -Increased production time

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COAL PREP

Tailing off tailings?

This decanter centrifuge, brought in from outside the coal industry, has proved to be a top tailings treater.

Faced with a tailings disposal problem, Rix’s Creek put a different spin on the problem.

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ix’s Creek had realised for some time that it would have to find an alternative to tailings dams. Design and process engineer at the mine Robert Booth, along with Rix’s Creek Coal handling and Preparation Plant manager Greg Bain, set out to find the best way of dewatering thickener tailings at the mine. Numerous methods for drying tailings were trialled onsite over almost two years. The three main technologies tested were Recessed Plate and Frame Filter; Belt Press Filter; and Solid Bowl Decanter Centrifuge. They also researched Geobag technology but this was not tested. “We initially used the decanter to thicken the feed to a recessed plate and frame filter,” Bain said. “We discovered that given the right conditions, the decanter could produce a spadeable product.” That made the decanter option the one to pursue. Rix’s Creek’s many seams are highly varied, particularly in terms of the run-ofmine material produced. There are different levels of bentonite and metamin clays, both of which can be very

hard to dewater. With these challenges in mind, any tailings disposal solution had to be sensitive to the environment. Booth and Bain had two specific requirements for a decanter dewatering solution. The first was that it be 55-60% solids by mass so it was spadeable. The second was that the centrate be clean enough to reuse in the coal-washing process. They turned to Alfa Laval because, as Bain said, neither of them were experts in decanters but believed Alfa Laval to be. “We gave them the operating parameters and material, and we were satisfied that Alfa Laval could supply us with the right machine,” he said. An Alfa Laval decanter centrifuge with a 2Touch system was recommended. This generation of decanter has been operating in Australia for more than 10 years in other demanding environments, including wastewater treatment and drilling solids dewatering. So far the cake quality and handleability have exceeded expectations with cake concentration at 62-67% solids by mass. Better yet, no free water can be squeezed from the cake. The cake is spadeable and can

be quite easily handled. It will then be mixed with the plant coarse rejects and put back into the open cut with overburden for mine rehabilitation. Another benefit for Rix’s Creek was that the Alfa Laval option required significantly less upfront expenditure than some of the other technology tried. “When we spoke to Alfa Laval we felt comfortable that Alfa Laval knew what we were trying to achieve and that they had experience in the field,” Bain said. The capacity to service locally was a key factor in Rix’s Creek choice. “Even though the machines are made in Denmark, there are spare parts kept locally and the decanters are serviced locally only two hours away from home,” Bain said. “Alfa Laval asked us to have a look at the workshop and that convinced us that the machines are quite serviceable these days. They are not complicated.” Bain believes the success of the project has huge ramifications for the industry. “Often a lot of our solutions have come from outside the box,” he said. “I think a lot of people are rethinking their ICN tailings disposal for the future.”

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COAL PREP

Downturn doldrums The coal downturn has hit home for one of the biggest providers of coal handling and preparation plants and CHPP operations services in Australia.

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ot that the news was all that much of a surprise to Sedgman management. The company’s half-year report of a net loss after tax of $A6.7 million was, sadly, in line with the company’s previous guidance, which is almost a threefold turnaround from the $12.3 million net profit after tax Sedgman posted in the previous corresponding period. Project revenue was hit by the deferral of several major projects as a result of lower commodity prices and rising costs. Project margins were also impacted by low staff utilisation with fixed costs being spread over a lower revenue base. Operations revenue declined as some operating sites were closed or transferred to owner operation. According to Sedgman, its operations business is focused on cost control and improving operating performance at the sites it is operating. Looking at the figures for the half year to December 31, sales revenue was down almost half to $153.8 million. In the previous corresponding period Sedgman posted a sales revenue of $257.4 million. Its underlying earnings before interest, tax and amortisation was minus $8.6 million, down considerably from the $20.7 million EBITA it posted in the half-year to December 31, 2012. Interesingly, operating cash flow for the

2013 December half-year was $5.5 million, more than double that in the previous corresponding period. Despite the loss Sedgman shareholders will still be getting a dividend, albeit one down a third on the 3c a share they received in the December 2012 half year. Sedgman managing director and CEO Nick Jukes said the company’s performance had been impacted by continuing difficult market conditions. “While we are disappointed to report a loss, our result is consistent with guidance provided to the market in November 2013,” he said. “Our book remains sound with $373 million work in hand, up $23 million in the period. “We have reduced overheads in the past 12 months and maintained a strong net cash balance of $77.9 million.” Looking ahead, Jukes reckons Sedgman is still on track to post a profit for the 2014 financial year, albeit one down slightly on what it had previously forecast. “We previously advised in November 2013 that our FY2014 reported earnings would be broadly in line with our FY2013 result of $9.4 million,” he said. “Earnings in the second half will now be impacted by a one-off [non-cash] write-off of previously carried forward tax losses and adjustments of approximately $4.2 million. “We now expect to deliver FY2014 a

reported net profit in the range of $3 million to $6 million after including the sale of surplus assets. “The global resource sector remains challenging and the company continues to position itself to remain competitive to pursue the available opportunities in the regions we operate.” In line with its plans, Sedgman has been working to move away from its purely coal handling and preparation plant services. It has branched out into metalliferrous processing. “The Mungari gold project is on schedule for successful completion in April 2014 and our appointment as the preferred contractor on the Aurora gold project in Guyana demonstrates the success of our diversification strategy,” Jukes said. “We are advancing negotiations on a number of key projects which, if secured, will underpin ICN a stronger performance in FY2015.” Times have turned tough for CHPP player Sedgman.

No new tailings dams? Alfa Laval, a leading global provider of wastewater treatment solutions, has developed an effective and affordable technology utilising solid bowl decanter centrifuges to treat coal tailings and do away with expensive tailings dams. • • • • •

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March 2014 I ICN


DRILL AND BLAST

Deep pain

Times are getting hard for the drilling sector.

In a market downturn, nobody hears the drillers scream. Well they do, they just pay them no heed.

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ertainly looking at the results from two key players in the market, things are a bit bleak. The good news is that there does seem to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, at least for one of them. Boart Longyear posted a loss for 2013, citing a difficult year for the global mining industry and the company’s core markets. The mining services provider declared a net loss after tax of $US620 million for the year to December compared to a $68 million net profit in 2012. “With a backdrop of declining prices and a weak outlook for most key commodities, increased political and economic risk for mining activity and a focus on maximising near-term cash flows, many of the world’s mining companies significantly reduced their exploration, development and capital expenditures during the year,” Boart said. “As a result, the company experienced a material reduction in demand for its drilling services and products that impacted revenue and other key financial measures.” Revenue was down 39% over the year to $1.2 billion. In the company’s drilling services division, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were down 51% to $142 million for the year, on lower pricing and revenues falling faster than the company’s ability to remove the variable components of cost of goods sold. Drill rig utilisation averaged 40% throughout the year. EBITDA in the company’s products division, meanwhile, was down 85% to $16 million for the year on lower pricing and higher fixed cost deleveraging related to the ICN I March 2014

company’s manufacturing plants, which were largely idle or at much-reduced utilisation levels. Boart said it would pursue operational enhancements, opportunities to reduce costs associated with potentially declining business conditions and other strategies for managing liquidity and accessing capital. These efforts include the recent renegotiation of the company’s $140 million revolving credit arrangement, with an aim to provide continued access to the facility and additional head room under the agreement’s financial covenants. Boart president and chief executive Richard O’Brien flagged a focus on debt reduction, safety and compliance and improvements in capital structure. “Our markets will improve and when they do, we are much better positioned to deliver improved profit margins and cash generation through our cost efficiency measures, revised capital deployment strategies, increased speed to market, more customer-driven design and our combined platforms for supply chain, inventory management and maintenance services,” he said. “While we cannot predict when our markets will recover, we have the experience of 120plus years to know that mineral exploration spending will increase as mining company reserves must be replenished to satisfy ongoing worldwide commodity demand.” While not such a big name in coal, it is also worth looking at company Swick Mining Services. Swick posted a $A400,000 net loss for the six months to December, with falling demand hurting the bottom line. The company said revenue had dropped

25% to $56.8 million and EBITDA was down 58% to $6.8 million. Swick said lower budgets and cost cutting in the industry had dented drilling demand and several contracts had to be renegotiated or renewed at lower prices. “It is very disappointing to report a loss to the shareholders,” Swick managing director Kent Swick said. “The mineral drilling market has been exceptionally difficult and is expected to remain subdued for some time.” Swick said the company was focused primarily on operating mines and that niche had provided some cushioning in the tough conditions. On the operational side, metres drilled fell 23% to 564,083m and the number of rigs in use fell 21% to 44. The company finished the half with $13.5 million in cash and $20.4 million in debt. Capital expenditure was $8.1 million, with the full year forecast remaining in the vicinity of $15 million. “The company is very mindful of the responsibility to manage the shareholder’s capital and as a result is being frugal with capital expenditure, focusing on what is needed to improve rig efficiency and operating margins including R&D projects, rig upgrades and strategic investments,” Swick said. “It is a period where capital is being deployed to an upgrade program to increase the capacity of the existing fleet as is required and the progression of high value, low complexity productivity projects.” Despite posting softer performance, Swick said its forward order book was strong and it was confident earnings would rebound in the ICN second half. 45


Drill and Blast

Sandvik’s +Range surface mining drill rods and tubes have longer service lives.

Alloy extends drill parts life EXTENSIVE in-mine tests of Sandvik’s +Range surface mining drill rods and tubes in Australia have shown service life increases of at least 30% – and in many cases significantly more, according to Sandvik rock tools business line manager Craig Johnston. He said the parts were made from a unique steel alloy designed to extend service life and reduce rod changes, while improving safety and cutting costs.

“This increased service life results from Sandvik’s new steel alloy, which is far more resistant to heat and thread wear,” Johnston said. “With drill rods and tubes representing a significant part of tool cost in bench drilling, a 30% plus increase in tool life allows customers to drill more metres every shift and reduce drill costs per metre.” Sizes available include T38+, T45+, T51+

and GT60+ and the range includes tophammer MF (male/female) rods and drill tubes. Johnston said with the mining industry requiring increasingly deeper holes, consumption of drill rods and tubes would continue to rise. “Keeping rod and tube expenses under control will be more important than ever – and our premium +Range will offer one of the longest service lives in rock tools,” he said. Johnston also highlighted the safety and environmental advantages of the +Range. “Ensuring a safe and healthy working environment was one of our objectives when developing our +Range rods and tubes,” he said. “Fewer rod changes are required with our new rock tools, resulting in less transporting and handling of equipment. This minimises exposure to risks such as strain and back, arm and hand injuries. “And because of the extended service life, our new +Range products require fewer shipments and less transporting once onsite and fewer rods to recycle. “In addition, the manufacturing process for our +Range tools uses less energy and fewer raw materials, further reducing their impact ICN on the environment.”

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ROOF CONTROL, BOLTS & BOLTING

Using data to improve roof control

Underground at the Austar mine.

ACARP is developing a study aimed at improving roof control on longwall faces through the incorporation of reliable convergence monitoring data into load cycle analysis software.

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ost Australian coal mines have shield leg pressure monitoring in real time to help identify and remediate roof-control problems, and to help identify faulty legs and yield valves. Nevertheless, roof falls continue to occur at sites where such monitoring is routinely carried out. This is because critical load cycle features – a load cycle being from set to release of the shield – are missing, which has limited the usefulness of the monitoring. Two of these features are shield convergence and canopy tilt. The aim of this project was to obtain shield convergence and canopy tilt data from two sites to determine whether the addition of such data could significantly aid the understanding of how shields interacted with the strata and as a result, lead to improved strategies for preventing roof falls on longwall faces. As part of an ACARP project, tilt sensors developed by CSIRO have been installed at Yancoal’s Austar mine on six shields to measure both convergence and canopy attitude. Caterpillar has also installed tilt sensors at Narrabri mine on all of the shields and three months of changes in shield height data was also obtained from this site. Canopy attitude is not an output from the Caterpillar system at the moment, but it can The longwall at Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri mine.

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be inferred from the three support heights provided at different positions along the canopy from the tip to the shield. Both of these systems have demonstrated that from tilt sensors located on the canopy, shield or lemniscate and base, shield convergence can be calculated. As the CSIRO system is still effectively a prototype and this was its first deployment underground, the performance was determined as part of the project. In general, the system performed to design and was found to be reliable. There were a few minor problems, but they were solved during the course of the project. The Longwall Visual Analysis Program was extended to capture the shield height data from the Narrabri system. From this data, the convergence was calculated for individual load cycles and displayed in the trending along with leg pressures and shield height. The following load cycle maps were also produced for display: shield height at the beginning of the cycle; total convergence during the cycle; average closure rate during the cycle; and cumulative convergence over three consecutive cycles. Because only six shields were monitored at Austar, calculated data was only presented as trending and no load cycle maps were produced. On this basis, the following load cycle

features were extracted: shield height throughout cycles; closure throughout cycles; closure rates throughout cycles; and canopy attitude throughout cycles. Back-analyses was carried out for both Narrabri and Austar using the leg pressure, convergence and, for Austar only, canopy tilt data. The differences in the accuracy between the two systems meant that more and more accurate load cycle features could be extracted using the CSIRO system, when compared to the Caterpillar system. The additional load cycle features that could be extracted that might prove useful from the CSIRO system included: pre-yield convergence; pre-yield convergence rate; and peak post-yield convergence rates. Additionally, the angle of the canopy and base are outputs in the CSIRO system, but are not in the Caterpillar system. The indications are that these are likely to prove very useful with respect to developing operational controls to prevent or ameliorate roof control problems. However, it would be assumed that the Caterpillar system could be configured to give these, albeit at a reduced accuracy. The back-analyses at Austar and Narrabri has therefore demonstrated that a much greater understanding of how supports are interacting with the strata is possible through the combination of monitoring leg pressure and convergence rather than just monitoring leg pressure alone. This is particularly the case for when supports reach the yield pressure. The hypothesis that pre-yield loading rates can be used to infer post-yield behaviour in the absence of reliable convergence data was nevertheless observed to be generally valid (if somewhat simplistic) noting that this cannot be determined accurately at many sites. Although based upon limited data to date, canopy angle measurements in combination with set pressures were observed to have the potential to develop guidelines for negotiating areas where roof control difficulties are being ICN experienced. March 2014 I ICN


ALLOW FLETCHER TO HANDLE THE HEAVY LIFTING. ®

MATERIAL HANDLING ROOF BOLTERS FROM J.H. FLETCHER & CO.

Fletcher Roof Bolters with Material Handling reduce the repetitive bending, reaching, and twisting as mine personnel load supplies for bolting. Now, your supplier can pre-load drill steel, bits, bolts, plates, resins and header boards into pods that are loaded onto the bolter before each shift. Your machine can even be custom fit with special racks for screens and mats. Contact Fletcher today to see how you can save cycle time and reduce exposure to material handling injuries.

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www.jhfletcher.com ▪ 304.525.7811 ▪ sales@jhfletcher.com ▪ www.facebook.com/JHFletcherMiningEquipment J.H. Fletcher & Co. cannot anticipate every mine hazard that may develop during use of these products. Follow your mine plan and/or roof control plan prior to use of the product. Proper use, maintenance and continued use of (OEM) original equipment parts will be essential for maximum operating results. 2013 J.H. Fletcher & Co. All Rights reserved.

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1/14/2014 1:37:56 PM


ROOF CONTROL, BOLTS & BOLTING Longwall production at BMA’s Broadmeadow mine will be improved with the introduction of longwall top coal caving.

BMA’s roofing technology to deliver efficiencies INNOVATIVE control and roofing technology to extract thick seams of coal will be used in Queensland for the first time with the $1 billion expansion of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Broadmeadow coal mine in the Bowen Basin. Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said the technology allowed for almost complete recovery of coal from thick seams. In addition to surface infrastructure and flood protection, BMA has introduced a form of mining known as longwall top coal caving that makes the extraction of thick seams more economic. “It is also renowned for its high productivity and for reducing operating costs, which are significant advantages for the coal mining industry,” Cripps said. “The extension of three longwall panels at the mine means production will be lifted from 400,000 tonnes per annum to a new total capacity of 4.8 million tonnes per annum. “Broadmeadow mine is just part of a

$5 billion investment by BMA in central Queensland, which includes a $1.6 billion development of nearby Daunia and a $2.5 billion expansion of Hay Points terminal.” Cripps said the investment by BMA reflected optimism about resources and the value of the government’s election promise to grow the sector as one of the four pillars of the economy. “With the extension of the Broadmeadow mine, BMA has demonstrated its continued commitment to coal production and investment in Queensland for at least the next 20 years,” he said. “The Newman government committed at the election to cut red tape and to speed up approvals to restore Queensland’s resources sector as a world leader. “This investment and the optimism in the resources industry shows that our commitment to the sector is delivering positive outcomes and thousands of jobs across the state. “Mining is now a larger employer of full-

time workers in Queensland than both the agricultural or hospitality sectors, which highlights the importance of the sector to economic growth in Queensland. “Last financial year BMA’s operations contributed around $9.3 billion in direct spending, mostly in regional communities.” Cripps said the mine extension generated 650 jobs during construction and could also allow for an increase in production capacity. “This expansion won’t only support the growing resources sector but has also been a boost to the construction industry, another economic pillar of the Queensland economy,” he said. “In the past, the construction industry hasn’t been a focus, however, these sorts of construction projects provide jobs and improved infrastructure for Queensland.” Broadmeadow is an underground mine on the Goonyella lease near Moranbah that produces hard coking coal for export to the Middle East, Asia, South America, South ICN Africa, Europe, Japan and India.

ICN

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March 2014 I ICN


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ROOF CONTROL, BOLTS & BOLTING

Anglo and Joy collaborate on Grosvenor development ANGLO American group head of supply chain Bruce Crane joined Met Coal regional manager for supply chain Margaret Davies and the Met Coal longwall mine of the future technical team at the Joy facility in Worcester,

Anglo’s Grosvenor mine will feature innovations in tunnelling, roof control and longwall technology.

UK, to finalise the engineering design for the new Grosvenor longwall. Steve Bessinger, Peter Crossland and Nigel Goff from the Anglo Met Coal team came together with Joy Engineering team members Colin Parrish, Clive Hibbert and Bob McCulloch to discuss the advances achieved through the partnership. They also discussed the new technologies being applied to the new longwall design that would deliver a more efficient and more productive solution for the future Grosvenor operation. The process of design, a key component of the Anglo American and Joy Partnership, has involved extensive analysis of performance data from the Moranbah North operation, output from Joy’s Smart Services Centres and planned technology developments, with these learnings built into the new longwall. Crane said he was impressed with the level

of partnering and collaboration he found, which he said was not typical of supplier relationships under a standard transactional arrangement. “Anglo American will be seeking to work closely with a small number of suppliers going forward,” he said. “Focusing on technology innovation and automation that will improve productivity and safety across the organisation is key to our success and ensuring these improvements are recorded and replicated will allow us to unlock considerable value.” Joy and Met Coal also outlined the range of activities being undertaken under the partnership, including trialling an ED25 development machine at Moranbah North, prior to moving to Grosvenor, the development of an automation roadmap, and work on improved process alignment on ICN machine overhauls and repairs.

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3

THE Australian coal industry does not have an agreed standard for bolting system competency evaluation and continues to rely on other countries’ standards, notably British and South African, to evaluate its bolting systems. In order to establish the Australian testing standards a program of field and laboratory studies was undertaken by Australian Coal Industry’s Research Program researchers to examine various factors influencing the effective load transfer mechanism between the bolt and resin with the rock. In underground coal mining, the resin bond strength between the rock bolt and the strata is one of the critical elements of a roof bolting system and strata reinforcement. It is well known that the The Australian industry in situ roof bolt installation effectiveness does not have a standard for bolting system competency. varies with changing ground conditions. ACARP installed 54 x 21.7mm diameter X-grade bolts and standard industry fast setting resin in three mines with different geological conditions and short encapsulation pull tests (SEPTs) were carried out. Additional studies included evaluations of the load transfer mechanism and anchorage performance along sections of bolts installed in steel tubes and assessment of sample dimensions influencing resin strength properties. Furthermore, laboratory SEPTs were carried out on bolts installed in an overhead sandstone block mounted above a drill rig under controlled conditions in the Rock Mechanics Laboratory at the University of Wollongong’s school of civil, mining and environmental engineering. Although the intent of the project is to develop standard resin anchorage testing methods, several lessons about best practice roof bolt installation were discovered that should be passed directly to industry. The study found that bolts installed in holes overdrilled by 50mm resulted in higher load transfer capacity for the given installation time. In particular, improvement in the load transfer capacity occurred near the top end of the installed bolt, where shredded plastic skin material accumulated inside the 50mm of overdrilled hole above the bolt. Bolts installed in small 27mm diameter holes performed better than those installed in holes larger than 28mm. The use of a 300mm encapsulation length may be the maximum acceptable length for pull testing but this depends on the type of the rock formation, which has some bearing on load transfer capability of the installation. For standard fast setting resin, a bolt installation time of around 10 seconds is acceptable as per recommendation by the resin supplier for this type of resin. Its overspinning was detrimental to the load transfer capacity of the installed bolt. To this end, the next and final phase of the project will include the completion of resin properties evaluation and documentation of the procedures for testing various resin properties, which can be ICN repeatable.

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BU

Developing an Australian bolting standard

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Equipment Maintenance

Bring in the women Coal miners could benefit from the views of an iron ore mobile equipment specialist on the importance of machinery maintenance and the advantages of getting more women into the business. By Vetti Kakulas.

T

racy Newington knows a few things about mining equipment maintenance. The Rio Tinto mobile equipment maintenance supervisor has worked in the mining industry for more than 27 years. Newington works at Yandicoogina iron ore mine, which is described as Rio Tinto’s first mine of the future. Located 95km northwest of Newman, Yandi is one of 12 iron ore mines Rio Tinto operates in Western Australia’s Pilbara. The open pit mine is run autonomously, with a fleet of 13 Komatsu driverless haul trucks working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Newington’s role at Yandi is focused on heavy mobile equipment rebuilds, including one of the main Yandi diggers and ensuring it sustains high availability. “No piece of machinery will work unless we maintain it,” she said. “One of my jobs includes changing machine availability from 66% to more than 90%. “I’m going to look at the dozers next because I don’t like their availability. “It’s all about keeping people moving in the right direction. Something so simple can turn our machine availability around.” Newington said she enjoyed her fly-in, fly-out lifestyle and would recommend mobile equipment maintenance roles to other women. “Although women interested in mining shouldn’t just see it as a high paying job, it’s also very rewarding,” she said. Interestingly, Newington said some of the best apprentices she had worked with came from a farming background. “I found most of the best mechanics have worked with farm machinery,” she said. “You actually have to solve problems when maintaining machines, you can’t just change parts. “You have to diagnose what is wrong with the machine and it’s important to have a sense of urgency.” For those interested in a heavy-diesel mechanic apprenticeship, Newington suggests starting with an equipment manufacturer, such as Sandvik or Atlas Copco. “It’s not ideal to start with a mining company first, as it’s better to get in-house training and customer experience,” she said. “It’s a bit more laidback.” 54

Tracy Newington at Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

It was not all smooth sailing for Newington when she started at Rio Tinto in 2012. She said a few of the personnel were cool towards her when she started her job, because some staff were temporarily doing her job beforehand and thought she was not suitable for the position. “What they didn’t know was that a lot of them were still in primary school while I was doing my apprenticeship,” Newington said. “Men are tough when they’re together but if you can get them by themselves one by one, you can gradually wear them down.” Prior to working at Rio Tinto, Newington spent eight years working at Sandvik. She started her career with the equipment giant as a service technician and worked her way up the career ladder to project manager. Originally from South Australian town

Lee Creek, Newington was a heavy diesel mechanic apprentice when she was 22. Newington is an advocate for increasing the female mining workforce and is a mentor for the Women in Mining WA association. “For a long time I wouldn’t have encouraged other girls to join the mining industry because it does have its hard times,” she said. “But you have to be stubborn and have a sense of humour. Now I would definitely encourage it because the industry is more accepting and it’s not as male dominated. It’s rewarding now.” Newington said women’s communication skills were one of their dominant traits. Rio Tinto’s Yandi mine began operations in 1998 and has an annual production capacity ICN of 52 million tonnes of iron ore. March 2014 I ICN


HOGSBACK The coal comeback MARK Creasy, a fabulously wealthy gold prospector and long-time friend of Hogsback, has a wonderful way of avoiding embarrassing questions about how he went broke in his early days exploring in the Australian outback. “I was never broke,” Creasy says. “I simply ran out of money.” The difference might seem to be hairsplitting but it does say something about the psychology of a man with the self-confidence and work ethic to believe that he will eventually work his way out of a financial hole. Before asking what this has to do coal, here is a quick answer – everything. What is happening in the coal industry today is that it too has fallen on hard times. Prices are down. The market is in a glut. Supply is drowning demand and governments are prejudiced against coal. But, here is the “get out of jail card” for coal. It is the world’s low-cost energy leader and governments and energy consumers are starting to realise that without increasing their consumption of coal they are going to end up like Creasy of 40 years ago – out of money and most probably broke.

Too bad, the German government said, we want to be seen as the renewable energy capital of the world. The catch, which is becoming blindingly obvious, is that the only way wind and solar can compete in the German energy market, or in any other market for that matter, is with the helping hand of huge government subsidies. Now come the complexities that are making coal look awfully attractive to everyone connected to an electricity grid in Europe: • Firstly, the governments of Europe are effectively insolvent and would be declared broke (even by Creasy’s definition) if they did not own a printing press able to churn out an endless stream of euros; • Secondly, the subsidies for wind and solar power have to come out of government revenue, which means they have to come out of the pockets of taxpayers, however well hidden the process might be; and • Thirdly, the priority entitlement held by wind and solar to deliver power into the grid is playing havoc with the reliability of the entire system because if the sun is not shining solar does not work and if the wind is not blowing wind power does not work.

At some point – and The Hog suspects we are not too far away from that point – the crazy European system of subsidised wind and solar power is going to collapse in a shower of accusations and desperate pleas for a fresh round of even more subsidies, this time from big energy users. The problem is one that The Hog has explored from time to time in other places and it comes down to a complex web of government regulations specifying the type of fuels that have priority entitlement to state electricity grids and the level of subsidy governments will pay to ensure those energy sources get right of way. If that sounds tricky, see it this way – in 2000 Germany passed laws that said it would have a green and pleasant energy system based on wind and solar power. Coal, the Germans said, was a fuel of the past. The problem with that idealistic law is that wind and solar power are much more expensive than power generated by just about any other source, including nuclear, gas and coal. 56

That means power companies must maintain a backup system for generating electricity and that system must be able to compete financially with the subsidised wind and solar electricity producers – and that is when the wheels fall off. What the Europeans are discovering is that they have created such a prostituted system of priority grid entry entitlements, subsidies and other inefficiencies that big power generators are mothballing their most environmentally friendly power stations that use gas and are reverting to their cheapest source of energy, which is lignite, or brown coal – which also happens to be the worst polluter in the world. At some point – and The Hog suspects we are not too far away from that point – the

crazy European system of subsidised wind and solar power is going to collapse in a shower of accusations and desperate pleas for a fresh round of even more subsidies, this time from big energy users. What is killing heavy European industry, of the sort that once made the Ruhr Valley the global centre of industrial manufacturing, is a combination of rising energy costs and the realisation that there are regions elsewhere in the world with much cheaper energy. That includes Europe’s number one competitor, the US. Losing market share for manufactured goods to China because of its abundant cheap labour is one problem the Europeans have been forced to live with. Losing entire factories that are being uprooted and moved across the Atlantic is adding insult to injury. It is for these many and varied reasons that the world is entering a time when coal makes its overdue comeback. It is not because it has suddenly become a less polluting fuel, though that is a problem being addressed, but simply because coal is winning fresh recognition as the “go to” fuel on that most important of all economic considerations – value for money. Governments, like Creasy, might not technically go broke. But when they are forced to dip deeper into the pockets of taxpayers, that’s when revolutions start. The future revolution The Hog sees will be led by taxpayers demanding the dismantling of an unworkable system of subsidies for renewable power and a return to a simple value for money proposition, such as that ICN offered by coal power. March 2014 I ICN


Safety

Quality

Technical Support

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