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India has extensive coal reserves and uses them as the country’s most important source of energy, covering about half of its primary energy needs with coal. One of the country’s largest coal mines, the Bhubaneswari coal mine, is located near the town of Talcher in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, where coal has been mined since the 1990s. The Indian company Bhubaneswari Coal Mines (BCML) has operated the open-cast mine since 2011, successfully using Wirtgen surface miners.

Safe, 24/7 operations

Mining operations at the Bhubaneswari coal mine are conducted 24 hours a day to permanently supply the nearby coal-fired power plants with the raw materials they need to generate electricity. As a result, the company mines more than 25 million tons of coal annually with a uniaxial compressive strength of up to 35 MPa. At the open-cast mine, the company completely refrains from blasting and drilling – instead, BCML relies on the safe method of cutting the soft rock. Bairagi Sahu, associated vice president BCML, is highly satisfied with the seven machines. “When it comes to performance, the Wirtgen surface miners are simply the best on the market. At our mine, we sometimes cut up to 1 800 tons of coal per hour with one surface miner.”

In addition, eliminating the need for drilling and blasting and instead using surface mining technology results in a number of other benefits. First of all, it increases the safety of open-cast mining by eliminating the need to store and handle explosives. Enhanced slope stability and therefore less rockfall also contribute to greater safety. Surface miner technology also eliminates the need to close the mine for blasting, which delays production. In addition, mine operators no longer need to spend time obtaining the required permits, hiring certified blasters, or compiling the associated documentation.

Optimised exploitation of deposits

Mining with Wirtgen surface miners also offers considerable financial benefits. The flat surfaces created during the mining process serve as stable roadways that facilitate fast truck haulage. This increases the transport capacity of the entire truck fleet, and the quality of the road surface even reduces wear and tear to each truck’s tires, frame, and suspension, allowing the operators to use standard trucks. The resulting reduction in transport costs helps mining companies lower production costs per ton of material.

In contrast to drilling and blasting, the use of surface miners makes mining vibration-free and significantly reduces noise and dust emissions. As a result, the material can be mined close to industrial sites and other infrastructure facilities such as pipelines, railroad tracks, or high-voltage lines that cannot be exposed to vibrations. This improves the exploitation of the deposit and with it, the overburden-to-coal ratio, allowing the operator to generate additional revenues.

An intelligent solution for soft rock

The only requirement for companies to fully leverage the benefits of the surface mining process is to use intelligent machine solutions. The 220 SM 3.8 is one such solution that has demonstrated its exceptional value at mines around the world, including the Bhubaneswari coal mine. This powerhouse with an operating weight of 58 t is propelled by a robust Cummins diesel engine with an output of 708 kW. Thanks to high-pressure injection and intelligent engine management, the engine is extremely fuel-efficient. At the same time, the diesel tank with a capacity of 2 300ℓ makes it possible to operate the machine around the clock with only one stop to refuel per day, resulting in unrivaled productivity. A cooling system with a demand-driven fan speed also helps to reduce fuel consumption and at the same time reduces noise emissions.

The new 220 SM 3.8 has succeeded in fully meeting the operator’s expectations in daily use at the Bhubaneswari coal mine, “The Wirtgen surface miner has proven itself across the board at our mine,” said BCML COO Om Prakash, summing up Wirtgen’s latest innovation on an extremely positive note.

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