Mining operations is at full swing at Canyon Coal’s Phalanndwa Colliery Extension Project close to Delmas in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, after its initial blast in July, writes Leon Louw. All photos: Canyon Coal
The extension project got underway with the first large-scale blast at Phalanndwa on 17 July 2019. The project is expected to add an additional eight years to the life of mine at Phalanndwa. The mine was established in 2010 and started producing coal three years later.
The mine consists of an open pit and Canyon targets the Two Upper coal seam, which is about 0.7m thick, Two Main seam, which is about 3.5m to 4m thick, and the Two Lower seam, which ranges from 1.5m to 5.2m in thickness. According to Allan Mabbett, general manager at Phalanndwa, who is overseeing the development of the extension project, Canyon currently mines close to 120 000 tonnes of coal per month, and in the process removes about 250 000m³ of waste rock and soil every month to get to the coal. The company uses an opencast stripmining method, with rehabilitation of the mined-out area being done at the same time. Topsoil is removed and placed on dumps for later final rehabilitation levelling, while soft overburden is placed on the rehabilitation area. Mabbett says that hard interseam waste and shale is either dozed away in pit or loaded and trucked to dumps in the pit.
Emulsion explosives are used to conduct all blasts on the mine. This is delivered by bulk explosives delivery trucks which manufacture the explosives in a plant on the back of the truck and the explosives are then pumped down the blast hole. Shock Tube Detonator accessories and pentolite boosters are used to set off the explosives in the blast holes. Drilling is outsourced to a company called Capstone.
According to Mabbett Canyon Coal historically made use of contractors to do the mining but the company established its own mining company in March 2015, called Canyon Mining Services, who is responsible for undertaking all blasting works at Phalanndwa. “Subcontractors are used on an ad hoc basis to increase required volumes while the washing plant operation, filter plant and drilling are outsourced,” explains Mabbett. The mine works a 24/7 shift operation.
All coal produced is planned to be washed according to RB3 specification. The mine will produce run-of-mine coal with an average calorific value of about 22.5 MJ/kg, an ash content of about 19%, volatiles of about 24%, inherent moisture of about 5%, a total moisture of about 9% and a sulphur content of about 1.2%.
The Phalanndwa drum and cyclone processing plant has a design capacity of 300 tons per hour and achieves an average yield of about 55%. Its best performance to-date is a production rate of 185 kilotons per month. Mabbett says that a filter plant has been added to the operation, that operates on a 24/7 shift basis. The plant is run by Ingwenya plant contractors.
Canyon Mining Equipment Fleet
Extension runs smoothly
Meanwhile, the construction phase of the extension project is well underway, with the excavation of the colliery’s pollution control dam currently taking place. Mabbett says that additional project infrastructure that will be established on site over the next three months includes the construction of berms and other associated site infrastructure, along with the construction of an access road to the mine.
“We are ahead of schedule on the project. Canyon Mining Services (CMS) has already pulled back two weeks on the schedule and development activities are running smoothly, which we hope will continue throughout the course of the extension project,” Mabbett concludes.
The mine currently employs 310 people including contractors. The number of employees is likely to increase to 360 once production has peaked to required levels.