Fording Coal Limited silo explosion

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 79, No. 891, 1986

D.A. STOKES Superintendent, Mine Production, Fording Coal Limited Elkford, British Columbia

In October of 1980, Fording's 15 000-ton capacity clean coal silo was put into operation. The silo was unique in that it was designed to allow the mass flow of material, coupled with a sophisticated computer-controlled dynamic loadout/weighing system. On May 1, 1982, an explosion, attributed to a methane buildup, devastated the top of the silo. As a contingent plan to minimize the effect of the production loss, the conveyance to the silo top was reconstructed and the silo was back in operation by mid-June 1982, although the silo top was left open to prevent further methane buildup. As dust emissions occurred during loading of the silo, an extensive study was undertaken to establish dust control for the silo, while at the same time providing methane detection and control. The study, conducted for Fording by the Cambrian Engineering Group of Calgary, involved an extensive search and investigation of existing coal silos. The study concluded that there is no universally accepted method of controlling methane emissions in coal silos. The study also produced a unique conceptual design for handling methane, while at the same time, protecting the environment.
Keywords: Coal preparation, Coal silo, Explosion, Methane, Dust emission, Methane control, Ventilation, Fording Coal Limited.