Category Archives for Europe
|The following average spot coal prices appear in the graphic below, for the previous and most recent weeks:
(Dollars per Short Ton)
A bid by a Foundation Coal affiliate was accepted by the BLM for a coal block adjacent to the western boundary of the Eagle Butte Mine in Wyoming. The new lease is for "255 million minable tons of +8400 BTU coal on approximately 1400 acres of federal land."
Read the rest of the Foundation Coal news release here.
Nidhi Nath Srinivas, of the Sunday Economic Times (India Times) elaborates on why you should have coal in your investment portfolio.
You are playing crude oil and natural gas futures. You love ethanol. But if you haven’t got a fix on coal, your energy sector portfolio sucks.
I can give five reasons why you should start taking coal seriously.
Read Srinivas’ reasons here
Brazilian group to build the southern hemisphere’s biggest coal …
Mining Weekly, South Africa –
Moatize will be the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere. Earlier this year, in March, at the Goldman Sachs Basic Materials Conference, …
CVRD clears final milestone for Moatize project …
Mining Weekly, South Africa –
The mine would have life of 35 years. Earlier this year, the company also bought an Australian coal miner, AMCI, to boost its coal production. …
[Google – Utility Coal News]
Congratulations to Arch Coal for having a subsidiary named the nation’s safest underground mine two years in a row.
Here is the text of a recent Arch Coal news release.
News from Arch Coal, Inc.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Media – Kim Link 314/994-2936
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Arch Coal Announces Band Mill Mine Named Nation’s Safest Underground Coal Mine, Earns Sentinels of Safety Award
Second consecutive year an Arch subsidiary ranks as safest underground mine
ST. LOUIS (September 19, 2007) – Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) today announced that Cumberland River Coal Company’s Band Mill No. 2 mine achieved the nation’s best safety record in 2006 among all large underground coal mines in the United States, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
The prestigious Sentinels of Safety award was presented by MSHA and the National Mining Association to mine representatives at a banquet on Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C.
This is the second year in a row that an Arch subsidiary has been honored with the highest national safety award in the large underground mining category. Canyon Fuel Company’s Skyline mine near Scofield, Utah, earned the 2005 Sentinels of Safety award on Sept. 21, 2006.
“We’re extremely proud of the dedicated employees at Band Mill mine for making safety a core value and exhibiting true leadership in the coal industry,” said Arch Coal’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven F. Leer from the awards ceremony. “The employees of Band Mill safely produced nearly 550,000 tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal last year to provide our nation with affordable and reliable electricity.”
The Band Mill mine is located in Letcher County, Ky., and utilizes continuous mining equipment. Band Mill’s employees worked 178,000 hours without a single reportable or lost-time injury – a rate that is significantly better than the national average of 7.35 total incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked for underground coal mines.
Arch’s subsidiaries achieved an overall 2006 safety rate of 1.23 that was nearly three times better than the industry average of 3.32 lost-time injuries per 200,000 hours worked. For a complete list of Arch’s national and state honors, visit www.archcoal.com/aboutus/awards.asp.
“We’re proud of our industry leading safety record, but we’re not satisfied,” continued Leer. “This year Cumberland River and Arch’s other subsidiaries are targeting at-risk behaviors before accidents occur. We believe continuous improvements in mine safety are absolutely necessary, and engaging in a new way of thinking about working safely will help us achieve our ultimate goal of zero accidents and injuries.”
The Sentinels of Safety awards program has been presented annually since 1925 to recognize extremely noteworthy accomplishments in the area of mine health and safety. The Sentinels of Safety awards are presented to U.S. mine operations that have worked the most employee-hours without experiencing a lost-time injury. Visit MSHA’s Web site (www.msha.gov) for a list of the award categories and current and past recipients.
Arch Coal is one of the nation’s largest coal producers. The company’s core business is providing U.S. power generators with clean-burning, low-sulfur coal for electric generation. Through its national network of mines, Arch supplies the fuel for approximately 6 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
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I came across an interesting editorial while reading through the Sept. 10, 07 edition of eWeek magazine today. In this article Senior Analyst, Wayne Rash puts to bed the theories of some media pundits who opined that since we can put men on the moon, we should surely have developed a way to use wireless communications in underground mines by now.
For the most part, the answers were obvious. Wireless communication, as we know it, isn’t going to reach through even a few feet of rock, and 1,500 feet of bed-rock is simply impossible
And of course, there’s the question of power. Even supposing the impossible, would wireless communications have the ability to keep running after two weeks?
After admitting to the limitations of wireless communications, Rash wonders aloud if RFID technologies might have been able to help locate the miners after the cave in at the Crandall Canyon mine.
But that doesn’t mean that there is not a wireless answer–just not the traditional one. Suppose instead that miners in Utah had had an RFID (radio-frequency indentification) tag on their hard hats, on their belongings and on their survival gear. Then when the exploratory holes were drilled, an RFID reader could have been lowered down, in addition to microphones and camers.
While an RFID reader isn’t thesame thing as two-way communications with trapped miners, it could have at least established their presences.
Rash doesn’t attempt to paint his thoughts as *THE* answer to the situation. As I noted before, he appears to be wondering aloud and trying to come up with a workable answer to a difficult situation.
In his closing, Rash admits that RFID is still an emerging technology with many kinks and issues to be worked out. (Other sources would seem to support his admission, as recent reports have linked RFID implants to cancer in some lab situations.) However, his suggestions do offer up one more possibility for helping to locate and rescue lost or trapped miners.
RFID may not be the answer that the mining industry is looking for, but it appears to be worth considering.
The head of the University of Utah’s Seismograph Stations, has linked this morning’s cave in at the Genwall Mine near Huntington, Utah with a 4.0 magnitude earthquake, “based on (seismograph) wave lengths.”
Six miners are currently unaccounted for at the mine and are feared trapped.
Specific information is spotty. However, reports indicate that the collapse was reported at 3:50 a.m., just after the earthquake hit. The epicenter of the quake was approximately 20 miles from the mine. Rocky Mountain Power is reported to have sent equipment and rescue crews to the area.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the miners, their families, and their co-workers.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
For general information on the coal mining industry’s safety record, you can read our Mine Safety fact sheet.
Update (2 pm: August 6): Robert Murray, President & CEO of Murrary Energy Corporation — the parent company of Utah American Energy — just held a news conference from the mine site and noted that they are “sparing no expense” to bring in mining equipment that will help to free the six miners. He also noted that they are working on four different methods of gaining access to the area in which the miners were reported as working before the collapse.
Update (2 pm: August 6): CNN is now reporting that the collapse may have been the source of the seismic waves reported earlier.
Update (9 pm: August 6): The San Fransisco Chronicle is now reporting (along with other news sources) that scientists cannot rule out an earthquake and will require further information to accurately determine the cause of the collapse.
The collapse did not appear related to an explosion. University of Utah seismograph stations recorded seismic waves of 3.9 magnitude around early Monday in the area of the mine, causing speculation that a minor earthquake had caused the cave-in. Scientists later said the collapse at the mine had caused the disturbance, reported to authorities around 4 a.m. But by late afternoon, they said a natural earthquake could not be ruled out and more information was needed to conclusively determine what happened.
This report also noted that since there was not an explosion associated with the collapse and that fresh air naturally seeps into the mine, the miners should have ample air to breathe. Additionally, the mine is stocked with drinking water. If the miners are uninjured, they could potentially survive for several days.
Update (9:30 am August 7) The latest reports are indicating that progress toward the miners was slow overnight. Mr. Murray noted that rescue crews had advanced approximately 310 feet before a “bump” (a situation where coal is dislodged from mine walls) caused the crews to temporarily retreat.
In a morning press conference Mr. Murray noted that no contact had been made with the miners yet. He also objected to media reports that attempted to describe and characterize the mining techniques being employed in the Crandall Canyon Mine as unsafe. In his verbal comments, Mr. Murray noted that the miners were engaged in primary mining (where the miners were advancing into an area), not “retreat” mining. (Note: The ACC is not familiar with the approved mining plan for this mine and cannot comment on what mining technique(s) were being employed at the time of the collapse.) Other media reports noted that J. Davitt McAteer, former head of the MHSA, described the mine’s record as,
not perfect but it’s certainly not bad, … It would be in the medium range.”
Update (12:30 am August 10) The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the smaller, 2 inch, drill has reached the area where the six miners are expected to be trapped.
Rescuers drilled through to a pocket in the coal mine where six miners have been trapped, but heard no sound through a microphone that was lowered into the collapsed mine.
Mining officials were able to take an air reading from the pocket and said the air quality was good, with 20.5 percent oxygen, some carbon monoxide and no methane.
After several setbacks, it is certainly heartening to see more progress being made.
In other media reports, it appears that the safety records of Murray Energy Mines is becoming a topic of interest. However, those reports are admitting that the Crandall Canyon Mine’s safety record was quite good.
At Utah’s Crandall Canyon mine, where the fate of the miners was unknown after a cave-in Monday, the safety record was remarkably good, said R. Larry Grayson, a professor of mining engineering at Penn State University.
“The injury rate for the last four years has been significantly below the national average,” Grayson said.
Even union officials, who are described as having carried out a “campaign” against Bob Murray are admitting that Murray’s mines have safety records similar to a majority of other mines.
(UMWA spokesman Phil Smith) said the safety record of Murray’s mines is generally “not particularly better or particularly worse than any other mine operator in the county.”
NMA spokesman Luke Popovich is quoted as saying that Murray’s mines are very safe and Mr. Murray is on the forefront of mine safety.
The National Mining Association, where Murray sits on the board of directors, credited Murray with pushing for safety, including backing the federal Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act passed last year. It called for additional mine rescue teams, extra emergency packs and other materials.
“In my experience Mr. Murray has been in the forefront of efforts to improve mine safety legislation,” association spokesman Luke Popovich said. “He’s certainly been visible in our association-wide efforts to improve mine safety at underground coal mines.”
The larger of two drill rigs has managed to reach the area of the mine where the six miners are believed to be trapped. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that the drill completed the 1900′ long shaft, which will be large enough to pass cameras, microphones, food, water, and other supplies through to the miners. Workers plan to lower a camera down the shaft in the hope that they will be able to survey the area for signs of the miners. Crews are also pumping oxygen into the previously completed 2½ inch shaft in the hopes that it could help to sustain the miners.
While there were no reports on whether the miners had been contacted, Bob Murray was reported to have said that he remained “hopeful” about the miner’s condition and that he would provide an update at a 10 a.m. briefing.
Rescue workers, trying to clear a path to the miners continued to work through the night and found a buried piece of equipment that would have been used by the trapped miners. They described the equipment as undamaged and “just buried.”
Many media outlets are reporting that sound recording devices set up in the area of the mine have picked up noises that may be coming from inside of the mine. Reports are indicating that the noises are indistinct and rescuers cannot say with absolute certainty that they are coming from the trapped miners. They did, however, report that the sounds came for a five minute period and were regular in pattern (one sound wave per second, for five minutes).
“We saw some indication of noise for a period of about five minutes that we had not seen before,” Richard Stickler, director of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday. “We’re not sure what it means.”
“Don’t read too much into this noise we picked up,” said Bob Murray, president and CEO of mine co-owner Murray Energy Group. “But it is a sign of hope.”
TV News outlets are currently reporting that a bump occurred in the Crandall Canyon mine while rescue efforts were being carried out. As a result of this seismic event, as many as 9 rescue workers have been injured and transfered to a nearby hospital.
At least 9 people working to find six men trapped in coal mine were injured Thursday night, authorities said. “It is believed that the accident was caused by a bump. … We are in the process of doing a head count to ensure that everyone is accounted for,” said Dirk Fillpot, spokesman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Three of the rescue workers injured as a result of last night’s seismic activity in the mine have passed away. Their names have not been released to the media.
Apparently another bump occurred, sending coal and rock into the area where rescue efforts were being carried out. At least six other rescue workers were injured by the falling debris.
“The seismic activity underground has just been relentless. The mountain is still alive, the mountain is still moving and we cannot endanger the rescue workers as we drive toward these trapped miners,” said Bob Murray, chief of Murray Energy Corp., the co-owner and operator of the Crandall Canyon mine.
After the death of the three rescue workers, all underground rescue operations were halted. At a recent news conference Bob Murray indicated, however, that they would continue drilling to operations in the hope that they might still be able to find signs of life. Early today a fifth hole was completed and found only a 6″ opening. Workers lowered a microphone and banged on the drill steel. However, no signs of life were detected.
During the press conference Murray denied charges that he had abandoned the miners, claiming that he had been living on the mountain in a “little trailer” since arriving on the 6th. Murray also noted that they had not given up hope yet and reported that a sixth and final bore hole, which is expected to be finished by the weekend, is planned. If no signs of life are detected in that hole, Murray noted that they would cease drilling and leave the mine as a final resting place and a memorial “site in perpetuity” for the six miners. He also noted that his company will not resume operations in the mine, but that they would be removing some equipment and then closing the site.
Some of the trapped miners families are openly questioning whether rescue operations should be stopped. Understandably, they want the search to continue until their family members are found. However, MSHA officials openly stated at the press conference that it was unsafe at this time for anyone to enter any part of the mine.
It is the consensus opinion of this panel that the overwhelming preponderance of data indicates that the entire main west area remains in a state that is structurally unstable. We are highly concerned that dangerous seismic activity and pillar instability are likely to continue and that it is not possible to accurately predict the timing or location of these events. No matter how a miner might access the main west area, seismic activity and pillar instability will pose a significant risk. I interpret this to mean that the suspension that we have on the underground operation will remain suspended indefinitely.Richard Stickler, Director, Mine Safety and Health Administration.
The Dec. 27, 2006 issue of Canadian Mining Journal has an interesting article on ground subsidence. The article describes a new technology, offered by AMEC, that maps the changes occuring around mine sites. These detailed maps allow mining companies to see and avoid the problems associated with subsidence and slides in and around their operating areas.
AMEC has access to new technology that can provide subsidence data faster and more economically than traditional ground-based observation technique, called InSAR, or Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar. AMEC is an international project management and engineering company that has an exclusive agreement with the European Space Agency to trial the use of its satellite earth observation technologies to locate and evaluate land subsidence problems.
InSAR uses satellite measurement data for a specific location acquired at two different times along similar orbits to detect minute changes occurring in ground topography. Satellite data are captured for each piece of the Earth’s surface every 28 days. Information from any two passes can be analyzed and compared to detect areas of ground settlement that could harm existing or planned facilities and infrastructure.
The key advantages of InSAR over traditional ground-based observation are cost and scale. Typical approaches require the user to review geotechnical data from previous projects, study geologic maps, do ground reconnaissance, and sometimes engage in geophysical and subsurface drilling and long-term monitoring.
InSAR greatly extends the ability to monitor subsidence because, unlike other techniques that rely on location-specific measurements at a few points, InSAR can produce a complete map of ground deformation. Combined with traditional measurements, InSAR data can improve the accuracy of computer models used to assess potential deformation hazards before, during and after they occur.
InSAR can analyze topography over large-scale or remote areas faster and more economically than traditional techniques. This can relieve the need to send survey crews out into the field, making it easy and safe to acquire information in places considered too remote or unsafe for personnel to enter.
Just as importantly, InSAR accurately maps ground deformation over the entire survey area, not just a few representative points. Past subsidence can also be evaluated using historical data.