(Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf)
Germany’s coal mining industry may be nearing its politically determined end date, yet it still has the potential to deliver technically interesting developments. An example of this is the new safety concept that was devised for working the Zollverein seam at Prosper-Haniel colliery in Bottrop, which is prone to spontaneous combustion and exhibits high levels of desorbable gas. The latest issue of our Mining Report Glückauf presents this development along with the software system that is now available to simulate the success of a preliminary gas drainage operation. In this context it is interesting to draw a comparison with the paper in our ISSA Mining section that examines accident causes in gas- and geodynamically hazardous coal mining in Russia.
We also report on some other technical innovations in the mining industry, including a new approach to winning both very thick and very thin coal seams. The roof withdrawal method when used in combination with the advantages of automated face systems allows very thick seams to be worked quite efficiently, while the deployment of a new type of shield support facilitates the extraction of very thin seams. Increasing requirements in respect of coal face monitoring and underground communications have meant a growing demand for installation space for electrical wiring systems, with cutting winning installations being a case in point. A flat cable has the capacity to combine up to six conductor systems in one run, thereby alleviating this pressure-point.
In the roadway drivage sector multifunction machines represent an interesting solution for the high-performance excavation of very small roadway profiles using conventional drilling and blasting methods. The transition from diesel-mechanical to diesel-electric technology for the drive systems of LHD vehicles promises to be an important step in the ongoing trend towards automation and digitisation in the ore, potash and salt mining industries.
It is a recognised fact that the stowing of underground cavities helps to reduce the impact of deep mining operations on surface structures. The use of numerical simulation technology has provided the industry with a tool for assessing the effect of the stowing material on deformation behaviour and rock pressure distribution.
China, which has for years been the measure of all things in the coal mining world, has recently had to cut back its production and consumption levels. With world market prices for coal having risen at the end of 2016 the Chinese situation has eased again somewhat. An assessment of China’s position leads us neatly to a review of the German coal market, a theme that has traditionally featured in the second issue of each year’s Mining Report Glückauf. This analysis also examines global events in the coal sector as a whole, not only in relation to other fuels, such as gas, but also in consideration of environmental and climate policy developments.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Herne