Jeffares & Green

Goedgevonden Coal Mine is Up and Running : Mining Weekly

Goedgevonden Coal Mine is Up and Running : Mining Weekly

Jeffares & Green

The Goedgevonden project has seen the development of a major new Greenfield, opencut thermal coal mine.

The project is expected to produce an estimated 3.1m tons of export thermal coal yearly and about 3.6m tons yearly for domestic use.

The project includes the development of a coal-handling and processing plant, incorporating a crushing system, a coal processing plant, a water recovery system, a waste disposal system, two product stackers and a reclamation tunnel system, and a rail load-out facility.

The Goedgevonden project has seen the development of a major new Greenfield, opencut thermal coal mine. The project is expected to produce an estimated 3.1m tons of export thermal coal yearly and about 3.6m tons yearly for domestic use.

The project includes the development of a coal-handling and processing plant, incorporating a crushing system, a coal processing plant, a water recovery system, a waste disposal system, two product stackers and a reclamation tunnel system, and a rail load-out facility.

The mine is developed through a majority black-owned and –controlled joint venture (JV) in which diversified South African Mining company African Rainbow Minerals (Arm) Coal owns a 51% share and global diversified mining group Xstrata Coal South Africa owns the remaining 49%.

Xstrata South Africa communications manager Songezo Zibi tells Mining Weekly that the mine’s target is to have coal running through module on of the plant in July.

“Work on the site is progressing well,” he said. “We have commissioned the feed system of the plant, and are well under way with primary and secondary stackers for the coal stockpile. The rail system is completed, but not ready as yet to receive trains due to damage. The mine infrastructure will be completed in June, providing operations administration buildings, change rooms and workshops.”

The only significant task remaining is the relocation of the dragline. The mine is already operational, however, and the first coal supply contracts will start in August 2009. Goedgevonden employed many people during the construction phase, and Zibi is positive that many more will have jobs in the operational mine.

He added: “The mine will provide employment for 350 people, including contractors.” Concerning the mine’s black economic-empowerment policy, Zibi explains that the mine has adhered to the Mining Charter and, to date, more that 50% of management comprise historically disadvantaged South Africans, while the total for the mine is 80%.

A number of problems arose during the construction of the mine. The conservation of the wetlands that form part of the mine site had to be considered constantly, which forced design and construction changes. Raid during the past two summers also delayed progress in construction and made for challenging earthworks. The JV between ArmCoal and Xstrata worked well during the Goedgevonden project. Zibi explains that the two companies use each other’s strengths in various areas of the business at a strategic level, and it is no different with Goedgevonden.

During the construction of the Goedgevonden coal mine, many different tasks were under way simultaneously. A railway development was undertaken, including the construction of about 9,35 km of rail, as well as bulk earthworks, stormwater culverts, four bridges, plate laying, overhead traction equipment and signalling. Goedgevonden will have a life-of-mine of 33 years. The capital cost of the project is estimated at R3.2bn.

The coal export railway line, built by railway specialists R&R Railway Consultants, consists of a take-off turnout from the third coal line, a safety set and a running line consisting of 60-kg/m rails on PY concrete sleepers in a ballast bed of 1 600 m³/km. The balloon is a single-line layout with a 1 to 12 turnout. The domestic link railway consists of second-hand 48-kg/m rails to Class A on second-hand P2 concrete sleepers. The total length of the siding is about 9.4 km. The four bridges which were constructed are all pseudo box-type bridges, consisting of precast pretensioned beams and a concrete slab. Earthworks for the siding consist of some 45 000 m³ of dump rock, 355 000 m³ of bulk fill and 30 000 m³ of selected layer work.

Construction and engineering group Murray & Roberts Engineering Solutions performed all the infrastructure-related work, including workshops, offices, rail construction, road diversions, and preparing terraces for all the other construction work.

Engineering company Jeffares & Green Consulting Engineers, which was contracted at first to build road diversions, built an access road to the mine for light vehicles. After that task had been completed, the company designed an access road to a mine for heavy vehicles. Although the design was completed in June, the construction of the weighing bridge and last minute design changes kept the company from completing on schedule.

Senior technologist and office manager at Jeffares & Green Theunie Visagie says that because of the design changes and weather delays, the budget made available for the construction of roads has tripled in size. He expects the construction of the roads around the mine to be completed by the end of July 2009.