Sibanye Gold could be the first mining firm globally to fuel trains with biogenic gas formed over millennia deep beneath the ground in order to cut carbon emissions and costs and improve the health of its workers.According to Reuters, Molopo South Africa, which holds the country’s first and so far only onshore petroleum production license, said it was partnering with Sibanye Gold to start underground testing next year on a locomotive that has been converted from diesel to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
Biogenic sourceBiogenic gas has been found in South Africa’s Free State province, close to the mining operations of Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold, and Petra Diamonds. Although there has been research into its use in powering trains, it has never gone beyond the prototype stage, experts say. A test run was done with the CNG locomotive that managed to pull eight wagons carrying a 30-tonne load, the equivalent of those pulled by diesel engines, said Molopo director, Marani.
Big milestoneThis is a very big milestone to move to the next phase of what we believe is a world first, Marani told Reuters. There was also a massive reduction in diesel emissions, with big health benefits for mine workers.
The project would also help ease pressure on South Africa’s constrained power grid, said
Sibanye’s vice president of engineering, Karel Opperman.