Paringa Resources says production ramp-up at its Poplar Grove coal mine in the Illinois Coal Basin of Kentucky, US, has begun with the commencement of higher productivity, continuous underground mining operations.
Raw coal is being brought to the surface and has been processed by Poplar Grove’s coal handling preparation plant (CHPP), the company reported.
The commencement of mining using company-operated equipment follows approval from the US Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for the recently amended development ventilation scheme, the company said.
Mining to date at Poplar Grove has been undertaken by Paringa’s mining contractor as part of the bottom development using drill and blast techniques. These development activities have included creating a void for the installation of underground infrastructure at the bottom of the slope and a turnout area to enable the efficient movement of underground mining equipment. “This mining activity has produced raw coal which has been run through the CHPP as part of the testing and commissioning of the surface infrastructure,” Paringa said.
The mining contractor’s last piece of work is to undertake 80 ft (24 m) of development mining via drill and blast over the next month, which will occur in tandem with Paringa’s operational teams.
The next underground mining development activity is the connection of the return and intake air shafts to establish the permanent ventilation system. The connection is being made by Paringa-owned continuous miners in the coal seam, from the turnout to the base of the intake shaft and then to the base of the return shaft. This mining is producing raw coal for processing and subsequent sale to Paringa’s cornerstone customer LG&E. Paringa commenced this activity using the recently commissioned company-operated mining equipment, it said.
Paringa said: “The bottom area ground conditions look good with slightly less water and a more competent roof than was expected, although initial mining with the continuous miner has encountered an area of very hard rock which will slow advancement marginally only in the very near term.
“Once the permanent ventilation system has been established, the company will commence a typical underground room and pillar mining sequence. All other underground infrastructure, including the bottom sump, temporary slope belt tailpiece and tramp iron magnet, will be commissioned in the coming month to enable the commissioning of the ventilation system needed to begin the room and pillar mining sequence, subject to customary MSHA permanent ventilation system approvals.
The company is targeting delivery of first processed coal to LG&E in the second half of March, and has progressed initial shipments activities, including a 2019 shipping schedule and invoicing and payment procedures.
On surface, the CHPP is fully commissioned and has been run several times, processing raw material from the mine, with feed comprised of raw coal and waste rock material, Paringa said. “The proportion of raw coal in the plant feed will significantly increase in the coming weeks as mining activities continue using the company operated continuous miner in the coal seam as part of establishing the permanent ventilation system.”
Initial raw coal stockpile development has commenced using material produced by company-operated mining equipment, conveyed from the underground mine portal to the preparation plant stockpile area.
All other surface infrastructure including the workshops, bath house and river dock has been commissioned.