Saving up to £13,000 a year in a mining complex, and not making a single compromise on efficiency and reliability when it comes to compressed air. The secret? Electric-driven GA compressors.
Compressed air is essential for coal extraction operations at the Cwmgwrach mine complex of Unity Mine in the Neath Valley, United Kingdom. Deciding to replace their existing diesel-driven compressors with Atlas Copco GA electrically-powered screw compressors has improved process efficiency and reduced both energy use and environmental impact.
After the mine’s re-opening, the company’s management focused on the reliability and efficiency of production equipment. Duncan Kilbride, Director of Projects & Procurement at Unity Mine explains:
“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. We also operate pumps on a permanent basis to remove water.”
Air for these operations was supplied originally from a number of small, rented diesel-driven compressors. But there was growing concern with their mechanical reliability and the risks of any break in the regular supply of fuel. Coupled with increasing rental and fuel costs, it soon became evident that replacement with more energy and cost-efficient compressors was essential.
“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 organization”
Two oil-lubricated, air-cooled, full-feature GA110 variable speed drive screw compressors were installed, together with a companion fixed-speed version machine.
It has been calculated that energy savings in the region of £13,000 per year are achievable, in addition to substantial savings in equipment rental costs.
These compressor units provide base load and back up peak 7bar air to the drilling and roof bolting equipment, and the water pumps. Current geological estimates are that there are reserves of 90 million tons of coal that will be extracted from the Cwmgwrach mine complex over the next 25 years.