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Welsh coal mine benefits from compressors

World Coal,

Atlas Copco compressors are providing an essential supply of compressed air to coal extraction operations for Unity Mine in the Neath Valley, South Wales.

The decision to replace the existing diesel driven compressors with Atlas Copco GA electrically powered screw compressors has resulted in considerable benefits in terms of process efficiency, energy usage and reduced environmental impact.

Full production

The mine is in the process of moving to full production after it was reopened in 2008. It has the capacity to produce up to a million tpy of coal, and is contracted to supply fuel to major industrial companies including the nearby coal fired Aberthaw Power Station.

Unity Mine was the first to be opened in Wales since the Betws colliery in Ammanford in 1974 and is prepared to take advantage of a market in which the increasing volume of imported coal, together with global price increases and demand, makes previously unprofitable domestic sites commercially viable again.

Energy and cost efficient

“The initial plan of the mine’s workings were based on the pillar and stall extraction methods that employ a continuous miner unit and secure the work with roof bolting, as opposed to arched roadways. These all require air-driven equipment fed by a reliable continuous supply of compressed air,” explained Duncan Kilbride, Director of Projects and Procurement at Unity Mine.

Originally, air for these operations was supplied from small, rented, diesel powered compressors; however there was concern over their mechanical reliability and the risks of any break in the regular supply of diesel fuel. This dependency issue, together with increasing fuel and rental costs, resulted in the decision to replace the compressors with more energy and cost efficient ones.

World leading specialist

Kilbride continued: “We invited tenders for the system and Atlas Copco came up trumps as a one-stop shop solution for the compressors, filtration units, controller and compressor house installation. They scored as a world-leading specialist offering long term options on a range of packages best suited to our needs within the required timescale plus an ongoing support organisation.”

Using the new compressors, estimated energy savings of approximately £13,000 py are achievable, in addition to considerable savings in equipment rental costs.

According to current estimates, there are reserves of 90 million t of coal in the mine complex, all of which will be extracted over the next 25 years.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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