Despite the current condition of the coal market, coal is still a relatively strong commodity in the Australian market.
Gloucester Coal was one company that used the recent spike in coal's price to rapidly develop its operations at its Stratford mine's coal handling preparation plant (CHPP) expansion against the backdrop of buoyant coal prices.
Working with engineers, Stratford mine's operator was able to maximise speed and efficiency during the expansion of its coal handling and preparation plant, increasing overall production rates as well as processed coal quality, without compromising on productivity at the site.
Gloucester, the owner and operator of the Stratford coal mine, commissioned engineers to design and document the mechanical and structural engineering associated with the installation of a new Horizontal Belt Filter, a new Jameson Cell, and an additional de-sliming screen.
The engineering firm, GW Engineers, was also retained to co-ordinate the on site works and installation to ensure that the project was completed within the mine management's precise timetable.
Upgrading Gloucester's coal handling preparation plant with the new equipment has allowed it to achieve its three main target objects: increasing coal output by close to 30 per cent, or 700 tonnes per hour; producing coal with a much higher fines content; and increasing the proportion of coking coal produced by the handling and preparation plant.
According to Gloucester, the installation of the higher capacity de-sliming screen as well as its associated infrastructure was the initial focus, which allowed it to expand overall plant production sixfold - from 100 tonnes per hour up to 600 tonnes per hour.
The engineering design also supported the coal handling and preparation plant operator's imperative that downtimes were minimised during the demolition and removal of existing steelwork and its replacement with a new steel support structure.
To ensure that operations could continue despite the construction, appointed site contractor H.F. Hand Constructors worked continual shifts over a week to install the new steel support structures and de-sliming screen infrastructure.
Due to this the miner was able to commission the plant and increased production feed the day after construction.
Structural design and documentation to accommodate the new Horizontal Belt Filter and Jameson Cell were prepared at the same time.
Minimal disruption to the plant were designed into the project, with construction adjacent to or over operating equipment scheduled for completion during maintenance breaks.
Design and documentation for the project began in February last year, site works completed in only four months, with the upgrade commissioned at the end of June 2011.
After only a relatively short period of optimisation the increased plant production rate of 700 tonnes per hour was achieved.
GW Engineers reportedly handled the design and structural engineering, of the expansion.