Marshall Miller & Associates - Case Study - Daning Coal Project Engineering, Social and Environmental Impact, and Geological Studies

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Case Study - Daning Coal Project Engineering, Social and Environmental Impact, and Geological Studies

Shanxi Province is located in North Central China – an area rich in untapped natural resources including but not limited to coal and other fossil fuels. The Daning Coal Project sits at the center of Shanxi Province where mining development began in 1999. As the venture progressed, the Chinese government realized that the best course of action was to marry modern mining systems with local mine management methods in use throughout China. To achieve this end, the government created Asian American Coal Inc. (AACI).

Marshall Miller and Associates prepared and helped implement a mine plan that combined the best of western and Chinese expertise to deliver coal production with an annual capacity in excess of 4-million tons per year. AACI hired Marshall Miller and Associates due to our extensive experience in geological mapping, mine design capabilities, and experience and expertise with modern mining systems. We helped address a variety of mining issues that included:

  • Resource and reserve evaluation and reporting
  • Feasibility studies
  • Environmental and social impact audits
  • Geological and mineability evaluation
  • Mine planning
  • Equipment specification and selection
  • Infrastructure assessment and design
  • Coal quality assessment
  • Coalbed methane degasification assessment
  • Financial modeling
  • In-mine mapping of geological conditions

Project Challenges & MM&A Solutions

There were three specific challenges that the client called on MM&A to solve.

First, we had to deliver a comprehensive mine design that combines western and Chinese mining expertise. To address this challenge, MM&A coordinated with mining engineers and production teams working from both China and the United States who were fluent in both Chinese and English. This allowed us to deliver a state of the art mine design that could be implemented by the mine management team in China.

Second, we needed to address potential issues with a seam methane content of 17 cubic meters per ton, one of the highest coal seam gas methane contents in the world. When the amount of overburden (earth material overlying the coal seam) increases, the methane content of the coal seam typically increases as well. After all, methane is highly combustible and its release can seriously impact the safety of mine operations, potentially causing explosions and the loss of miners and or equipment..

Marshall Miller and Associates worked with AACI personnel at our facilities in the U.S. to design a comprehensive degas program consisting of vertical and multi-lateral directional wells and in-mine horizontal wells. The cleats in the coal seam made the process of degasification easier. However, the drilling of multi-lateral and in mine wells decreased the amount of time needed to degas the coal seam. We leveraged our experience with drilling multi-lateral directional wells for coalbed methane in the U.S. and then were able to provide technical oversight on-the-ground in China to help AACI drill the first successful multi-lateral wells in Asia.

And third, we were tasked with identifying the unique geological features of the Daning Coal Mine that could impact mine development, costs, reserve estimates and reserve recovery over time. To answer this critical question, MM&A delineated fault zones through a combination of 3D seismic modeling and data gathered from both production wells and exploration coreholes.

This Case Study is just one of the many projects Marshall Miller and Associates has undertaken since our inception. We hope it provides you with insights into our methodology, our integrated approach to mining, and the diligent process we go through in order to identify challenges and come up with unique solutions for each mining operation we serve.
About the Author

Marshall Miller & Associates performs a wide range of geological, environmental, hydrogeological and mining engineering services. MM&A’s seasoned staff of engineering personnel delivers design solutions for a variety of projects and industry-specific applications.