DANING: East meets West, Part 2

ENSURING the safety of the workforce has been a critical focus for Shanxi Asian American-Daning Energy Company (SAADEC) at its Daning mine in China’s Shanxi province.
DANING: East meets West, Part 2 DANING: East meets West, Part 2 DANING: East meets West, Part 2 DANING: East meets West, Part 2 DANING: East meets West, Part 2

Daning mine in China's Shanxi province

Staff Reporter

In part one Click here of this article, general manager Ron Hite outlined some of the issues a western-lead group has to face in China.

Hite said contrary to Western expectations, safety standards in Chinese coal mines were generally good. While safety statistics were still poor among the multitude of smaller, sometimes illegal mines, state owned enterprises were very focused on safety, as is the Chinese government. Daning is subject to regular and rigorous inspections Hite said.

The mine’s ventilation plan for example was subject to intense scrutiny. Daning is using a bleeder entry system and a bleeder shaft which is not common in China. Hite said this approach had to be explained to the regulatory authorities.

Continuing on the theme of cultural crossover, shareholders from the beginning took the view they would introduce Western style operating management techniques. At the moment the mine is in the process of recruiting a longwall project manager from the West to help phase the local workforce into longwall operations.

When the bulk of the longwall gear is delivered to the mine early next year a surface mini-build will be set up on site to allow for 30 days of intense training before the gear is taken underground.

The management structure will be a flexible performance-based system. Base pay for local workers is comparable with other mining operations in the region but if key targets related to safety, productivity and costs are met or exceeded, additional bonuses can be earned.

SAADEC is focused on an expatriate succession plan between now and the second quarter of 2007, when “the company vision is to train highly skilled domestic managers to operate the mine for the next 30 years,” Hite said.

Longwall crews will work three, 8 hour shifts a day. The continuous miner crews currently working on roadway development consist of a team leader, comparable to a ‘face boss’ and an assistant who focuses on logistics. Similarly to the US there is no job demarcation and workers are expected to multi-task. This has posed a few problems as training workers in how to use equipment requires an intense training. New workers are trained for a period of 28 days before a licence can be issued to the operator. The mine is gradually getting workers trained in operating the various pieces of equipment but this is a challenge to build a multi task work force while the gear is in continuous use in the field.

Hite said a ‘safety responsibility system’ has been implemented at the mine. This system clearly defines all SAADEC employee’s daily safety responsibility, from the general manager to the last post on the property.

“This system combined with a very strict corrective action program keeps SAADEC safe work practices our employee’s first thought as they go to work and the first thought as we approach any task.

“Our board of directors have unanimously agreed to the answer to the question ‘Who do we want to be in safety?’ Our vision is to be the leader in safety in China and the world.”

“When we considered the longwall package, safety systems were the first thing we, as a group, considered.”

Dust control, ventilation monitoring, physical locks outs on all the major equipment and a state of the art electrical master control panel at the head gate will enable Daning to be developed into a world class, safe, high productivity mining operation.

Hite said he has learned a lot during his time in China and that the fruition of the project would be very satisfying. All the professional staff work up to seven days of the week, three months at a time.

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