Is Spot Cooling for Underground Coal Mines the Next Big Thing?
Posted: 06/04/2012 12:00:00 AM EDT | 0
Heat management has long been a critical OHS issue for many underground coal mines, and the use of spot cooling systems maybe the biggest and most important technological advancement yet for the industry.
One mine at the forefront of this is North Goonyella Coal located in the northern end of the Bowen Basin. North Goonyella is one of seven Peabody Energy mines in the Bowen Basin and has been owned and operated by Peabody since 2004.
Peabody Senior Mining Engineer, Mike Slater, has worked at North Goonyella since 2002 and said the implementation of a spot cooling system will be an industry first.
“Spot cooling has been used routinely in other countries and in the metalliferous mining industry, but it hasn’t been used in the coal industry yet,” said Mr Slater.
“We had an independent ventilation expert review our heat management and other requirements and he made a recommendation that this would be the best system to implement.”
Mr Slater said that it has taken some time for spot cooling to enter the coal mining industry due to various statuary requirements, such as electrical guidelines.
“Spot cooling systems haven’t been used in the past due to electrical conformance issues, so it’s been a matter of resolving these and ensuring it conforms to underground mine requirements,” said Mr Slater.
“When suppliers work with the underground coal mining industry, they have to comply with many additional regulations. Up to now, it hasn’t been in their interest to put that effort into making modifications in their equipment for mining.”
However, times have changed and cooling systems have advanced over the years.
“Now bulk air cooling has been almost universally adopted above ground in the Bowen Basin, it’s evident we can do a lot more engineering-wise to move this equipment into an underground environment.”
But what results can North Goonyella mine expect from the implementation of a new spot cooling system? Mr Slater believes it boils down to positional efficiency.
“It’s much more efficient to have the [cooling] equipment down where the heat is, not on the lying on the surface of the mine. We expect to see much improved heat management outcomes, lower power costs and reduced emissions,” said Mr Slater.
Mr Slater has no doubt spot cooling systems will be the next standard for heat management in the coal mining industry.
“It’s only a matter of making it happen. When spot cooling is in place, it will become very clear that this is what should have been in place 10 -20 years ago as it has been in the metalliferous industry.”
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