Coal mining in Canada in the nineties

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 946, 1991

George E. Davies and David M. Parkes

Mathematically, the proposed formula is: "Human Effectiveness + Technological Improvement = Success in the Nineties". A brief review is made of geology, level of technology, management and labour situations, and range of production costs in coal producing countries. This comparison shows keen competition for Canadian coals, especially from the People's Republic of China, South Africa and Australia. Domestic competition comes from nuclear energy, hydro-electric generation, natural gas (if permitted) and eastern United States coal. The huge increase in the size and power of surface mining equipment in the last forty years led to modern large-scale open pit mining. While conventional truck and shovel operations will continue to be widely used, more continuous mining and conveying systems will be installed as pits become deeper and haul distances longer. Computer systems will become more sophisticated and their applications more widespread, leading to higher productivity and closer control of all operations and equipment performances and to partial or complete automation of certain operations. The underground revival will be driven by a new generation of mining people, cooperating to produce over 3 million t/y from 300 m longwall faces retreating over 3 km resulting in mine productivities of over 40 tonnes per man shift, as is already achieved in several mines throughout the world. Continuous operation using on-line control systems will assist in consistent production with availabilities over 75%.
Keywords: Coal mining, Production costs, Lignite, Sub-bituminous coal, Productivity comparisons.