The Australian Coal Association Research Program, (ACARP) recognised the achievements of five important research projects at the 2000 Australian Coal Conference and Trade Exhibition held at the Gold Coast on 9 May.
In presenting the biennial awards Ken Foots, ACA conference chairman and Ensham Resources CEO, said technology had played an important part in the success of the coal industry.
"ACARP, through the industry participants' contributions and the research capability in this country are expected to play an increasing role in developing the technology for the future," Foots said. "This will be in all areas from exploration, mining and processing through to the market place support. It will also ensure the Australian coal industry effectively contributes to a successful management of the environment."
The award for Coal Preparation went to Dr Peter Holtham, Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre for his work on assessing froth flotation, entitled, "On-Line Vision Based Instrument to Measure Coal Flotation Froth Properties". (See JKFrothCam set to produce millions in export sales.) The system uses a video camera and PC to continuously assess the froth against user-defined criteria, and adjust operating parameters accordingly. It has been successfully trialed in a Bowen Basin operation and its commercial form is awaited by industry.
The Coal Utilisation award went to Dr Louis Wibberley, BHP Centre for Metallurgy and Resource Processing for his project called Environmental Credentials of Coal. In presenting the award Foots said "The project conducted a rigorous and impartial study of electricity and iron production based on Life Cycle Analysis.
It compared coal with current and prospective fuels. Whilst coal undoubtedly faces some environmental challenges, the comparison with other fuels is much more favourable than has been reported elsewhere. The final report has been peer reviewed by an internationally recognised group, who concluded that 'it is an outstanding piece of work, very capably done'."
The Open Cut award went to Bryan Reeves, Cooperative Research Centre for Sensor Signal and Information Processing. His work "Monitoring Highwall Face Deformation by Microwave Interferometry", developed a slope stability radar system to monitor an area of the wall rather than point targets. The development offers an exciting opportunity to improve the safety of the working environment, Foots said.
Dr Peter Hatherly, Cooperative Research Centre for Mining Technology and Equipment (CMTE) was given the Underground award for the project "Interpretation of Small Scale Geological Features on Seismic Reflection Data."
The growing use of 3D seismic in the Bowen Basin is partly due to advances in interpretive software tools. The advances, which were reported in the ACARP project report and a series of preceding programs, have adapted the advances made in the petroleum industry to coal exploration.
"The results from this important project help mine management locate face stopping faults before they stop the face. It is an important step in the coal industry's determination to obtain more consistent production from longwall faces," Foots said.
The Occupation Health & Safety award went to Dr Colin Jacka, CSIRO Telecommunications & Industrial Physics for the project "Emergency Mine Communications."
The group achieved the development of a system capable of through the earth transmission of radio waves from miners operating underground. A number of communication companies are negotiating with CSIRO for the right to commercialise this discovery.