The growing popularity of Smartgas

COAL Mines Technical Services had a busy 2009 and is looking to expand its products and services into China. CMTS manager Peter Mason discusses its system monitoring and remote transfer gas analysis system.
The growing popularity of Smartgas The growing popularity of Smartgas The growing popularity of Smartgas The growing popularity of Smartgas The growing popularity of Smartgas

Coal Mines Technical Services' Smartgas in use.

Blair Price

Smartgas is mainly used in New South Wales collieries but is also found in three Queensland operations and in four countries overseas.

Longwall mines with Smartgas set-ups less than two years old include Peabody’s North Wambo, Centennial Coal’s Newstan, Yancoal’s Ashton (previously owned by Felix Resources) and Xstrata’s Ulan colliery, along with a more recent installation for Vale’s Carborough Downs mine in Queensland.

Another Smartgas installation is on the cards for Xstrata’s Ravensworth mine.

BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal, Centennial’s Mandalong mine, Yancoal’s Austar operation and Anglo’s Dartbrook colliery in New South Wales use Smartgas.

Despite the dominance of Simtars’ Camgas system in Queensland, Smartgas is installed at Caledon Resources’ Cook colliery and Xstrata’s Newlands Northern mine.

Smartgas was developed in 1996 and uses scientific equipment supplier Varian’s micro gas chromatographs.

Mason said Varian’s technology provided analysis to 1 part per million very easily and reliably.

He said the Varian system used in Smartgas employed auto-ranging amplifiers with its detectors, meaning only three analytical modules were required for a complete mine atmospheric analysis.

While this provides a cost incentive, Mason said a minesite could instead purchase a fourth module for additional purposes, such as the analysis of higher levels of hydrocarbons.

Varian’s technology allowed for analytical run times of up to 600 seconds, with the extra time handy when trying to isolate a small component of gas from a larger concentration of other gases, such as targeting 1ppm of carbon monoxide from very high methane.

Training is not seen as a big issue, with Mason saying operators are generally trained in a single shift to be able to carry out routine gas analyses.

With two of its gas chromatographic systems in China and one mobile laboratory, Mason sees more opportunities for CMTS in the country well known for gassy mines that claim lives every year.

“CMTS does have plans for increased trade overseas and, apart from trips to the USA and China last year to market our products and services, we are currently in discussions with some Chinese representatives to promote and sell our products and services, not just the Smartgas systems, into China,” he said.

Smartgas is also used at the Huntly East mine in New Zealand and at the Elk Creek and West Elk mines in Colorado.

The New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure also uses Smartgas along with a variety of mines rescue stations, including at Newcastle, Armidale and Runanga in New Zealand, and two stations in South Africa.

A CMTS delegation is heading to South Africa in early February to provide additional training and to look at a client’s mine gas inertisation system.

The company has its own electrical repair facility but Mason said most servicing and repairs could be done onsite.

CMTS is a division of Coal Services.

Last year Agilent purchased Variant for $US1.5 billion but the takeover did not prevent Variant from releasing a new generation of micro gas chromatograph technology.

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