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Fording Coal Installation
Fording Coal reduced preparation plant
downtime with wear resistant linings from Abresist
Author information - This article was prepared
through joint efforts between Abresist Corp., Urbana, IN.
and Fording Coal Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Reprinted
with permission from COAL, April 1994 issue.
Thousands of feet of pipeline thread coal processing plants. Keeping material flowing through those coal piping lines can be a headache; sharp, abrasive material wear pipelines until they sometimes blow. When they do, production ceases and magnetite is lost. Such was the problem facing the Fording River operation of Elkford, British Columbia, owned by Fording Coal Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta. In 1992, Fording River produced 22,440 tons of clean coal per day. Clean coal productivity increased from 30.8 tons per manshift in 1991 to 34.7 tons per manshift in 1993.
Located at an elevation of 5,400 feet (ft),
the Fording River mine is one of the highest surface mines
in North America. It also is said to be the only mine in the
world to use a dragline for major extraction of mountainous
The mine produces mainly hard coking coal for
export to customers world-wide. Recent sales figures show
that 33.6% of total sales is standard coal, 33.9% medium-volatile,
27.1% high volatile coal and 5.4% other. More than 600 112-
to 120-car trains are shipped from the preparation plant annually.
H.E. Kennedy, superintendent of processing,
said that Fording River has the highest productivity per manshift
in western Canada. "And, we are proud of our record."
An integral component to maintaining productivity is the processing
plant. In operation since 1973, the The Fording Coal operation
has the highest productivity in western Canada. Four-circuit
heavy-media plants run around the clock, producing just under
23,100 tons of clean coal daily, or between 990 and 1,210
tons per hour, depending on the blend. The recovery rate is
usually 67% to 68%.
The preparation plant has a maintenance crew
of approximately 40 people. In the early 1980s, the frequent
downtime that occurred when replacing the pipe in the plant
began to affect productivity and increase maintenance costs,
Kennedy said. "When a line or an elbow blew, we had to
shut the plant down, and that impacts productivity negatively."
The abrasive coking coal was destroying the mild steel straight
pipe and elbows at a startling rate, requiring elbow replacements
every six to eight months. Mild steel straights had to be
To solve the problem, in 1986, Fording River began to replace existing coal pipe and elbows with fused-cast, basalt-lined abrasion-resistant pipe, elbows and fittings manufactured by Abresist Corporation of Urbana, IN. ABRESIST® pipe and elbows are constructed from basalt rock liners, which are molten cast at 2,400°F and annealed prior to insertion into a steel casing. To test the ABRESIST pipe, Fording River installed sections in the most problematic area of the plant, according to Jim Shoemaker, processing maintenance foreman. "We put the pipe in our worst area first, in the horizontal lines on the heavy-media circuit. It worked. All of the pipe that went in at the start is still here. Using it has curtailed maintenance costs and reduced downtime. We can now plan maintenance."
|Almost 3,500 ft of pipe and more
than 390 fittings crisscross Fording's preparation plant.
Pipe installed initially in 1986 is still working and
Kim Spence, process maintenance supervisor,
said that the ABRESIST straight pipe has lasted seven years
and the ABRESIST elbows have lasted five years, and they are
still there. "That's quite a difference," he said.
Since 1986, Fording River has installed approximately 3,400
ft of ABRESIST pipe and more than 390 fittings, as well as
55 ABRESIST high-density alumina ceramic fittings.
Fording Coal Ltd. has more than 2.2 billion
tons of reserve metallurgical coal, steam coal and potash.
The company's holdings include two metallurgical mines-Fording
River and Greenhills, both in British Columbia; three operations
in Alberta; and two rare mineral mines in the United States.
The acquisition of the Greenhills mine in 1992 made Fording
Coal one of the largest metallurgical coal producers in Canada.
With 83.6 million tons of bituminous coking coal in reserve,
Greenhills has the ability to produce up to 3.3 million tons
of coal annually. The Fording River operation has more than
220 tons of reserves. Together they will have a combined output
of up to 11 million tons of cleaned metallurgical coal annually.