Mine modifications for economic survival - a case study

Grayson, R. L. ; Mishra, G. ; Wood, R.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
Introduction Many old underground mines have been developed extensively into reserves requiring large numbers of workers to maintain and rehabilitate lengthy track haulages and/or belt conveyor systems. Often, large numbers of fans are required to maintain minimal airflows in areas where poor conditions and huge leakages prevail. Problems that beset one such coal mine and projects undertaken to restore it to potential profitability are presented. Brief history The Vesta No. 5 mine was opened in 1908. Drift development began near the Monongahela River, which was the primary avenue for shipping metallurgical coal to coke ovens in Pittsburgh. Over the ensuing 75 years, the main haulage entries were developed a distance of 16.1 km (10 miles) to the present mining area. Track haulage was used to transport coal from working sections to the river loading facility. As haulage distance and areas of high water influx increased, management decided, in 1973, to construct an underground conveyor belt system. The project spanned 36 months and culminated in a system of 22 flights, ranging from 205.7 to 1767.8 m (675 to 5800 ft) long. Six intake and eight return entries were developed as the mains were advanced. These entries provided adequate ventilating capacity over the years, but as extensive gob areas progressed and roof conditions deteriorated, the entries became inaccessible and more resistant to airflow. By 1981, five fans were being used to circulate 943.9 m3/s (555.5 cfm) of air through the mine. An average of 6440 t (7100 st) were produced from 20.8 continuous miner unit shifts and 2.7 longwall unit shifts each day in 1981. The ratio of support to production personnel was 1.94. To maintain the outby 16.1 km (10 miles) of haulage, 110 personnel were used. The average cost per ton was $43.54 ($39.58 per st), resulting in excessive bottom-line losses. The mine possessed a rather promising reserve, mostly in lease, of good quality, medium-sulfur metallurgical coal, but it also had a number of formidable operating problems. Operating problems Contributing factors toward relatively low productivity and high costs were the conditions of the track haulage, conveyor, and ventilation systems. Productivity was affected greatly by downtime associated with the conveyor system, which lacked adequate access for making splices or other repairs. Many areas within the conveyor belt entry itself required more
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