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Mining is and will remain an important international industry. The major globally-positioned mining companies are in need of trained personnel, as even the world‘s main mining regions suffer from a skills shortage in this area. This creates wonderful career opportunities for German-trained engineers and technicians. This is why we think it is very important to take a global view of what is happening in the mining sector beyond our shores and to look at the developments under way elsewhere in the world. This will work both ways, as our readers in other countries will also gain an insight into the realities of the German mining industry.

With my best regards

Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chiefeditor Mining Report

ISSUE 02/2015

Drilling equipment for drifting and rockbolting – current developments and future trends from a manufacturer and user perspective

Photo / Foto: Atlas Copco

Photo / Foto: Atlas Copco

Over the years underground drilling equipment for drifting and rockbolting were primarily developed with a view to increasing the penetration rate. The computer technology that gradually became available was subsequently employed for control and automation of the drilling systems. This ongoing development was not continuously pursued in more recent times until it became apparent that because of limitations to the drilling speed users and manufacturers alike were now presented with a new set of challenges.

Planning and excavation of a special-profile, deep- level face start-up road at Prosper-Haniel colliery

The deepening of number 10 shaft and an extensive programme of development work has given Prosper-Haniel colliery access to new reserves of coal on mine level 7, at a depth of 1,159 m. In order to extract the gas outburst-prone Zollverein 1/2 seam in the Prosper North district, where the coal is up to 4.65 m in thickness, it was necessary to purchase a new set of ‘category C’ shield supports. This paper, which is based on the author’s presentation to the Drilling and Shotfiring Colloquium held at Clausthal University on 24 January 2015, describes the requirements imposed on the face start-up roads, the planning and implementation work and the operational experience acquired in the course of the shotfired drivage phase.

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Constructing underground water barriers in areas subject to ground movement – a real engineering challenge

Between 2011 and 2014 two new high-pressure water barriers were constructed at Ibbenbüren Mine, RAG Anthrazit Ibbenbüren GmbH, to provide a long-term seal capable of resisting the ground movements expected as a result of the planned extraction of the Beustfeld panel. Two water stoppings had already been erected at the end of the 1970s for the hydrological separation of the western and eastern districts at a depth of about 300 m, the aim being to dam the water in the western district to about + 65 m. The two stoppings now had to be renewed, mainly to counter the influence of the approaching mine workings in the eastern district. The new water barriers with their special sealing segments were completed on time and without accident or incident in the summer of 2014. The two high-pressure dams were of a kind that had never before been constructed anywhere in the German coal industry.

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Contribution of Domestic Methanol Production by applying Carbon Capture Technologies and the Future Energy Mix in NRW, Germany and the EU with Regard to Security Aspects of Supply

As an alternative to petroleum the methanol production via synthesis gas – based on natural gas or biomass – may be a viable solution. But special attention should get the „green methanol“. Relevant research is to be supported, how to really produce out of CO<sub>2</sub>, sunlight and water, an important chemistry source of energy and basic raw material. There are already processes in place to use methanol as a raw material for polyethylene and polypropylene, and hence for plastics and many other things. The government of North Rhine-Westfalia supports the chemical industry to find innovative ways to a strong future. The path of ecological renewal of the industry is supported by the state government. The state government welcomes and supports a currently on-going Enquete- Commission on the future of the chemical industry in North Rhine-Westphalia. The subject of methanol economy was and is subject of discussions in the Enquete-Commission. This paper is a conclusion of the author´s speech on the Methanol Technology and Policy Congress at 3 december 2014 in Frankfort/M. in Germany.

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Climate-friendly use of coal in power plants and in energy-intensive industrial facilities with carbon capture including the CO2 disposal in the methanol path

Every CO2 reduction strategy should commence with the increase in efficiency of existing power plants followed by investments in state-of-the-art technologies and most advanced plants. EURACOAL’s three step strategy therefore starts in a logical sequence with the replacement and modernisation of existing power plants. In a second step application of state-of-the-art technologies would increase the average efficiency to 45 %. In a third step the most advanced plants can reach efficiencies of about 50 %. Increasing average efficiencies step by step could reduce CO2 emissions per kWh by 21 %, 33 %, or even 40 %.

CCS is less a technical challenge than a political hurdle, as there is a growing resistance against CCS and in addition a CCS infrastructure is not available. Therefore making CCS a prerequisite for further coal use is equivalent to a stop of coal usage.

A climate-friendly use of coal in power plants and in energy-intensive industrial facilities with CCU in the methanol path is feasible.

But still a lot has to be done to make CCU a policy option in Germany and the European Union. Starting point of a CCU strategy could be the third STOA policy option, i. e. a focus on niche markets. Electricity from wind farms without or with limited access to the electricity grid, solar electricity generated in isolated but sun-rich regions that cannot be fed in to the grid or “cheap” excess renewable electricity could be used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis.
Methanol production in a carbon capture and utilisation strategy should not be viewed just as an alternative method of producing methanol. Of course at present this is not a competitive alternative to conventional methanol production. It should rather be viewed as a means to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere and to recycle CO2 to products which can be used in the transport sector, hereby increasing security of supply and indigenous value added.

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Developing high-efficiency, low-carbon, clean coal in china

In the last few decades, China has dramatically expanded access to energy and, as a result, has achieved nearly universal electrification (Figure 1). Although this accomplishment is notable, China’s energy mix is facing several pressing issues with important domestic and global implications. China is coal-rich and, for this reason, continues to rely on coal for the majority of its primary energy (over 70 %), resulting in cost, reliability, and energy security benefits. However, coal resources are being consumed rapidly. China has built, and is continuing to grow, massive industries that hinge on the availability of coal; therefore, coal conservation through more efficient utilization is in the nation’s best interest. This article was originally published in Cornerstone (Vol. 2), Issue 3, 2014, p. 29 – 33 (www.cornerstonemag.net)

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The german coal situation 2014

The year 2014 was marked by a period of stagnation in the international coal market, the first in a number of years. In Germany there was a noticeable fall in coal consumption, mainly due to the decline in electricity production. Here the national energy transition is now making its impact felt and this has had a negative effect on coal use. Political decisions would indicate a further significant downturn in this sector in the years ahead. The year 2014 saw no more pit closures in the German coal industry, which is now in its run-down phase and has only three active collieries still in operation. However, the next closure is planned for the end of 2015 and the industry is already well advanced in its plans for the post-mining era.

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