Development of a preliminary methodology for determining maximum economic recovery

Maleki, H. ; Heath, R. ; Tetreault, G.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2002
This study was initiated by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to develop guidelines for determining the maximum economic recovery of resources in coal mines. The work was in response to a requirement in the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and Federal regulations. The intent was to address the economic rainability of small, irregular reserves in existing longwall mines. In particular, there was a need to determine if room- and-pillar mining using a continuous miner (CM) was economically sound or whether unconventional (short or odd-shaped) longwalls could be used to recover small coal reserves economically. Small reserves, called "widgets " are left in longwall mines on one side of the mains near outcrops and adverse geological conditions or near any other location where reserve geometry does not lend itself to mining with a rectangular longwall panel. The work included the analysis of the geologic, geotechnical and economic factors that influence the recovery of small coal reserves; the analysis of historic changes in supply, demand and coal prices; the development of typical cost models for room-and-pillar and longwall mines; and the development of a practical methodology for determining maximum economic recovery. The methodology included an evaluation of the ratio of coal mined during longwall mining to that mined for development (LDR), as well as costs of maintaining coal quality depending on market conditions. The LDR is a good indicator of mine efficiency and overall coal recovery in modern longwall mines and, thus, is used to evaluate the increased costs associated with adding new development sections for extraction of small reserves. The study examines the economic feasibility of using unconventional longwalls for the recovery of medium-sized reserves, depending on site-specific geologic and geometric conditions.
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