Mine ventilation improvements build greater energy efficiency
For underground mining, air ventilation is essential to worker safety.
To ensure that we maintain a high safety standard, while at the same time be energy efficient, we have implemented improvements to our ventilation fan systems at our Coal and Platinum operations in South Africa over the past three years - something to celebrate this World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
In completing these improvements, we have achieved energy and CO2 emission savings that have greatly contributed
towards meeting our 2015 energy- and carbon-management targets.
Ventilation systems are critical to ensure safe working conditions
for our people underground.
They provide fresh, cool air, and dilute and remove
flammable gases as well as machine exhaust gases. The systems run continuously 24 hours a day, throughout the year. When we assess opportunities
to reduce ventilation energy demands, our priority is to ensure that the health,
safety and comfort of workers are not compromised, while maintaining good ventilation
In 2012, an initial mine ventilation optimisation project at
our Goedehoop colliery in South Africa resulted in a variety of energy-efficient
ventilation changes achieving considerable energy savings. A number of
relatively low-cost energy savings were realised through maintenance improvements.
Interventions included reducing fan speed to suit optimum system airflow,
improving fan inlet and outlet duct connections to reduce entry and discharge
losses, and replacing components such as inlet guide vanes, gearboxes and
motors. The energy consumption of the fans is monitored to verify energy
savings and to provide a performance measure to ensure that energy savings are
An evolution in safety
Building on the success of the initial project, mine
ventilation system optimisation was undertaken across our underground coal
mines in South Africa and Platinum’s underground mines.
Those efficiency opportunities
requiring capital typically deliver attractive returns, with less than two
years’ payback on the outlay. The programme has generated a collective annual
energy saving of just over 1.8 MW (enough to power 1,730 mid-sized homes for a
year), which is equivalent to 16,700 tonnes CO2. The energy-cost saving for
Coal South Africa alone amounts to around $1.3 million per year.
ventilation optimisation is now being driven across the Group.
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