South Africa’s coal industry is the largest in Africa and boasts with the continent’s largest recoverable coal reserve and coal production base. South Africa mined about 260 mt of coal in 2014 which makes it part of the global top ten coal producers. Approximately 75 % of the South African coal produced is utilised locally whereas the balance is exported mainly via the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. About 80 % of South Africa’s power generation comes from coal. The state-owned utility Eskom operates thirteen coal fired power stations with two additional power stations currently under construction and to be integrated into the local power grid soon.
One of Eskom’s suppliers of coal is the South African large mining house Exxaro with its recently established coal branch Exxaro Coal Central (ECC). This major player in the African coal industry has a long history of mining with roots dating back to the state owned mining company Iscor established in 1928. Today, Exxaro is JSE-listed and broad-based black owned and managed. Besides its local sales it is one of the largest exporters of coal in South Africa (2014). Current coal production levels of ECC equates to approximately 3,9 mt/a which is mined from one managed open cast and two underground operations.
ECC runs a met coal operation at the Dorstfontein Complex. It is located 30 km South of Emalahleni at the Northern part of the Highveld Coal field. The Dorstfontein Complex comprises of its open cast East operations as well as the underground West operations. In 2015, Dorstfontein-West mined the lower number 2 seam at an annual production of 700,000 t ROM (Run of Mines). Currently there are three Continuous Miner (CM) sections and one drill and blast section in operation.
One of the three CM at Dorstfontein-West is an Eickhoff CM2H-30 (Figure 1). The modern CM2-Series Continuous Miners from Eickhoff Bergbautechnik GmbH, Bochum/Germany, are very popular in tough low seam mining applications. Apart from the CM2H-30 model, Eickhoff has fourteen CM currently operational in the market which also includes the CM2H-37 and CM2H-45 models.
During the second half of 2015, the CM2H-30 machine arrived at Dorstfontein-West on a trial basis. This low profile CM prevailed in ECC’s challenging conditions. With this the mine decided to buy the South African-German jointly engineered and manufactured CM. Since then, this drum type cutter has been exceeding its individual targets set by the mine.
Eickhoff Bergbautechnik GmbH