Continuous miners to speed revival

INDIAN company The Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) has ordered a set of Joy Mining Machinery mechanised room and pillar equipment to be used at the Jhanjra coal mine.
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Major Indian Coalfields, courtesy Joy Mining Machinery

Staff Reporter

The deal forms part of a financial revival package aimed at revitalizing the Coal India subsidiary and improving productivity rates.

India’s coal industry is currently a major focus for the government and has been described as the bottleneck to growth of the Indian economy.

Increased attention is being paid to the main producer, Coal India, to improve production through the use of better equipment and technology.

Despite being the fourth largest coal producer in the world and with massive coal reserves, India’s domestic production is well short of requirements.

Total coal production for 2004-05 was 359 million tones, up 20Mt on 2003-04 but still 30Mt short of requirements. The shortage is being met by increased imports.

India aims to increase local production by 20Mt per year, but even this ambitious plan is likely to result in an increasing gap between domestic supply and demand, with the 2005 financial year energy shortfall at 7% and the economy increasing at 7- 8% per year.

The room and pillar equipment order includes a 12CM15 continuous miner, three 10SC32 cars, one quadbolter and the electrical distribution equipment (transformer, switchgear, signalling and cables).

Several other sets of equipment will be required to increase production and productivity, and orders for these may follow – depending on the success of the initial equipment.

The order constitutes the first continuous miner equipment ever to be used in India’s Eastern Coalfields and represents a big breakthrough.

The Jhanjra mine has operated many different longwalls (British, Chinese and Russian) for many years, but the equipment is very old and production rates are extremely low by world standards.

The new equipment will operate in the R6 and R7 seams. The R6 seam, ranging in thickness from 3.5m to 5.5m and averaging 4.5m, is particularly suited to this technology. Annual output of over 400,000t is the production target from this unit.

The order comes on the back of unqualified success for the first two continuous miner systems installed in India, at Chirimiri mine for South Eastern Coalfields (SECL) and at Tandsi mine for Western Coalfields Limited (WCL).

At Chirimiri the equipment has achieved exceptional results of 480,000t in the first year and 510,000t in the second, and is on target to achieve 480,000 tonnes in the third year of operation. The first successful fully mechanised de-pillaring system using continuous miners was also introduced.

At Tandsi mine the equipment has produced 310,000t in the first year and is on target to achieve 420,000t in the second year. This is in extremely difficult mining conditions with a very weak roof and high horizontal stresses. Roof control has been difficult and very time consuming. Despite this a successful de-pillaring system has been introduced.

Success at Eastern Coalfields, which has been in a poor financial state for many years, will open the way for greater levels of underground mechanisation.

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