As the coal price continues to suffer, more miners are looking towards innovative and more efficient ways to extract product.
GVK Hancock Coal, a joint venture between Indian firm GVK and Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal, says it has been"searching the world" to find to the most cost effective and productive overburden removal methods for its up coming mega projects in the Galilee Basin, according to International Mining.
It has found what it was looking for in a combination of some of the largest technology available on a mine – draglines and bucket wheel excavators (BWE).
The company itself stated that "GVK Hancock set itself a goal to be the world leader in adopting proven global best practice and has been looking outside of the box regarding what methods it will adopt globally, not just in Australia.As a result, a combination of draglines and bucket wheel excavators (BWE) has been selected".
Speaking to Australian Mining previously, GVK Hancock group managing director Paul Mulder stated that GVK will be using surface miners to mine the coal, rather than the truck and shovel method, in a similar fashion to Fortescue at its iron ore operations.
The site’s primary overburden waste removal equipment includes six draglines and at least three compact bucket wheel excavators.
Massive draglines will be used right across the 24 kilometre strike length of Alpha.
The miner explained that while "draglines have a high capital cost in the right conditions [they] provide the cheapest method of overburden removal as it can amount to less than half the cost of using trucks and shovels. GVK Hancock will also utilise BWEs to shift soft overburden material ahead of the draglines. This will involve approximately 30km of conveyor belts to move material directly to the overburden dump".
It explained the use of surface miners,stating by doing so it minimises waste dilution of the product, which in turncuts down processing time and reduces rejects handling.
It will employ Thiess as the mine operations contractor.
The GVK Hancock coal Alpha complex, as well as the related Kevin's Corner project have been the most contentious operations in the country in environmental terms, with environmentalists claiming that the coal contained in these deposits, once used, would make them the 6th largest emitter of carbon globally.