New Zealand learns more about the hazard of sponcom

SOLID Energy is adopting leading practices in spontaneous combustion assessment at its New Zealand coal mines, with several staff attending a series of short courses put on recently by Basil Beamish, director of the University of Queensland’s spontaneous combustion testing laboratory.
New Zealand learns more about the hazard of sponcom New Zealand learns more about the hazard of sponcom New Zealand learns more about the hazard of sponcom New Zealand learns more about the hazard of sponcom New Zealand learns more about the hazard of sponcom

Director of the Spontaneous Combustion Testing Laboratory Basil Beamish.

Lou Caruana

Beamish, who is also a senior lecturer in mining engineering at the university, took up an invitation from the AusIMM New Zealand branch to present two short courses in the South Island – where the Pike River tragedy occurred – and one in the North Island.

Beamish said there was a lot of interest in the courses by the New Zealand coal mining industry.

“All three courses were well attended and strongly supported by personnel from New Zealand’s largest coal producer Solid Energy and various consulting companies,” he told ILN.

“I was also able to show them the growing sponcom database we have on NZ coals and of course we have been working with Spring Creek on sponcom management since 2005 and as such they are a benchmark operation in our database.”

The short course was presented in four modules.

Module 1 provided a general background to the topic and covered aspects of the significance of sponcom as a principal hazard in mining, handling and transport of coal and the fundamental sponcom process.

Module 2 discussed the potential strategies for assessing sponcom propensity and covered the four stages of assessment and an explanation of the interpretation of test results and how they relate to coal quality.

Module 3 provided detailed specific examples of the application of the new moist adiabatic benchmark test that included general benchmarking, quantification of reactive pyrite effects on sponcom and a quantification of the effects of climatic conditions on sponcom.

Module 4 discussed the aspects of sponcom detection and the use of gas monitoring for recognising the signs of heating development. This included the use of trigger action response plans with reference to two published case studies (Mandalong in New South Wales and Spring Creek in New Zealand).

“At the end of the short course in Huntly a very relevant operational question was raised with respect to the use of incubation times that could not be answered on the spot,” Beamish said.

“However, as a result of this query a follow-up proposal of testing and applied fieldwork has been developed that may lead to an even more direct practical application of sponcom testing results. A successful outcome will certainly contribute to advancing leading practice in spontaneous combustion management and planning.”

While in Westport, Beamish visited the recently opened CRL Energy laboratory to discuss the commissioning of its new adiabatic oven that will be used for sponcom testing.

“It is anticipated that there will be scope for testing collaboration between the two laboratories to enhance the capabilities of sponcom assessment and management for the New Zealand coal industry,” Beamish said.

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