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MAXAM Foundation - MAXAM Chair - Blasting solutions - Coal Mining

Coal, a type of ore, is a sedimentary rock which is formed through the accumulation, burial and transformation with carbon enrichment of dead plant matter in shallow marshy, lagoon and other wetland areas.

Although it has been used in small-scale energy production and artisan foundries for over 3000 years, widespread use did not come about until the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the second half of the 18th century. Steam trains and steamships later allowed the opening-up of more coal mines, helping it to expand internationally.

Today it is mostly used to generate electricity, in the steel production industry, and cement manufacturing. Its by-products can also be found in soap, aspirin, solvents, dyes, plastics and fibres, such as rayon and nylon.

Open pit coal mining

When the coal seam is close to the surface, the most economical form of mining is using open-pit methods. The choice of mining method will depend on the topography, the geology of the rocks in the surface layers and the shape of the seam, along with the environmental and economic requirements and constraints. However, the most important factor is the amount of top layer which must be removed relative to the quantity of coal which can be extracted: the higher the ratio, the less profitable the exploitation of the mine.

The first operations carried out focus on removing the surface rock layer, generally using drilling and blasting operations, since there are no mechanical means which can match the fragmentation capacity of expansive energy. The open-pit operation sequence typically consists of:

1. Drilling and blasting to displace the surface layer; 
2. excavating the material with drag-lines, back diggers or shovel trucks; 
3. once extracted, the material is transported to the coal wash plant on high-capacity trucks and/or conveyor belts, if it is to be used in a power station, or to ports for maritime transportation.

Dumper trucks in an Australian coal mine

MAXAM and coal mining

Blasting plays a key role in the exploitation of coal mines. Excavating the surface layer safely and economically is essential in order to ensure a sustainable operation. Given these challenges, the value propositions developed by MAXAM include:

• Safe operation
• Reliable supply
• Maximum productivity
• Maximum displacement of surface layer
• Cost-efficient operations
• Environmental controls

The combination of all these factors is key to the success of coal mining operations. Blasting operations that ensure maximum displacement are essential in optimising the productivity of a mine, as it reduces the cost of excavating and transporting the surface layer. Moreover, the combination of drilling and blasting technologies must cover the largest volume possible in order to keep overall costs to a minimum. Whilst drilling capacity defines the rate of work, the blasting solutions used must be able to keep up with this capability.

Be sure to contact MAXAM for further information on value proposals and blasting solutions for coal mining.

 MAXAM flexi-truck in a USA coal mine

Blasting solutions. January 2017



Last update 2019.10.10
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