Today the UBC Mining Research Field Trip had another early start, leaving an approximately 7am. Following a 2-3 hour drive, the group arrived at Soma Coal open pit and underground operations owned by Turkish Coal Enterprises. Turkish Coal Enterprises is owned by the government of Turkey. The town of Soma is relatively small and is located near the ancient fortress and temples situated at Pergamon.
After a winding road to site, we received the nice surprise that we would be provided the opportunity to go underground and see their longwall operations. The tour schedule included underground operations, open pit operations and quick overview of the wash plant. The entire operation produces 15 million tonnes of coal per year and is critical in producing the feed for a local power plant.
Upon arriving at site, the group received all necessary underground PPE and an introductory information session including safety information. The equipment provided included hard hat, glasses, coveralls, head lamp , muckers and miner’s belt. We also received a demonstration in proper use of the self rescuer provided.
The underground portion of the mine we visited was operated by a contractor under contract to recover 15 million tonnes of coal (of which 7 mllion has already been recovered). The mining method varies from face to face between mechanized longwall and conventional drill and blast longwall. The underground tour commenced at one of several portals and the group walked down the decline alongside one of the main conveyors. We stopped at a longwall face and were able to witness the longwall shear in action, which was a tremendous learning experience. We also got to see firsthand how hydraulic supports are used in the longwall method.
After lunch the tour continued to the open pit area of the mine. The open pit area includes 6 separate areas varying in stripping ratio from 10:1 to 20:1. The particular section we visited was recovering a single seam 30 metres in thickness at a stripping ratio of 10:1. The open pit uses 7 shovels and a fleet of trucks utilizing both mechanical and electric drive trucks.
The tour concluded which a quick overview of the wash plant. The plant produces 4 products of various sizes. The plant utilizes screening and heavy media separation to recover the clean coal.
To conclude, the UBC Mining Research Field Trip would like to thank Soma Coal for the opportunity to visit and learn from their operation. It provided an unforgettable experience and a tremendous learning opportunity.