BHP Billiton has launched a world-first greenhouse gas reduction initiative: the West Cliff Ventilation Air Methane Project (WestVAMP).
Situated at BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal’s West Cliff Mine, the project is the first demonstration of commercial power generation solely from mine ventilation air. It follows seven years of collaboration with technology provider MEGTEC Systems AB, owned by US Company Sequa Corp.
The $30 million plant will generate approximately 5 MW of electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
With the assistance of a $6 million contribution from the Australian Greenhouse Office Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme, the Project has involved construction of a facility to generate power from mine ventilation air which contains very low concentrations of methane.
For more than 10 years, the company has used methane extracted during the mining process to generate electricity.
BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal President Colin Bloomfield said the project was about delivering real reductions in the greenhouse gas intensity of the company’s production processes.
“WestVAMP is making a significant contribution to reducing BHP Billiton’s carbon footprint,” Bloomfield said.
“The NSW Government’s forward thinking Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme has provided the fiscal conditions to make this innovative investment possible.”
Bloomfield added the support of the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme with a $6 million contribution has also been critical to the commercial viability of the investment.
Opened in 1976 the West Cliff Mine is a high-volume longwall mine extracting coal from the Bulli Seam using one longwall and five continuous miners.
During the mining process mechanized shearers are used to cut and remove the coal at the face of the mine. After the coal is removed, it drops onto a chain conveyor, which moves it to a second conveyor that transports the coal to the surface.
Hydraulic-powered roof supports hold up the roof as the extraction process proceeds.
Following mining most of the longwall panel is allowed to collapse behind the roof supports, forming a goaf.
With a washery capable of processing in excess of 4.5 Mt and a capacity to store over 2.5 Mt of coal on site, West Cliff provides the production reliability vital to steel makers.
Clean coal from West Cliff can be stored on site, trucked to BlueScope’s Steelworks at Port Kembla, or to the Port Kembla Terminal for export.
High methane gas levels in the Bulli seam saw the introduction of methane drainage in 1980. In this process, methane gas is extracted ahead of mining, and during coal extraction by drilling holes in the coal seam and exhausting the gas to the surface. This gas is captured and used to generate 1.2 MW of electricity through a power generation plant situated near the mine.
A pipeline also connects West Cliff with the Appin Mine power plant.
BHP Billiton Illawarra
02 4255 3200