The Shotton Surface Mine is the UK’s largest working mine of its type and is keeping busy extracting an enormous 5.4 million tons of coal.
Banks Mining, a division of the Banks Group Ltd. in Meadowfield, County Durham, UK, develops and operates surface mines throughout England and Scotland. One of its mines – the Shotton Surface Mine – started operations in May 2008 and will extract 5.4 million tons of coal throughout its lifetime. The Shotton site will be restored to agriculture, woodland, nature conservation and amenity when it has reached its mining capacity. The site currently employs 140 people.
The north east of England – and especially Newcastle upon Tyne – played a major role during the UK’s Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century and was a leading centre for coal mining and manufacturing. The city is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne, a short distance (8.5 miles 13.7 km from the North Sea.
Banks Mining is a major supplier of coal to the UK’s electricity generation industry as well as to the domestic coal market It has 30 years of mining experience and operates its own sites using a modern equipment fleet that has recently been adapted to meet stringent production and environmental standards. The coal produced at the Shotton site is helping to meet the needs of local coal users and power stations in the neighbouring Aire and Trent Valleys. About 20% of the coal extraction from the site is suitable for domestic use.
Banks Mining already owns a large fleet of construction equipment to run its mining operations but has recently added five Volvo A40F articulated haulers, two EC220D excavators and two EC300D excavators, − fitted with bespoke front shovel coaling equipment – to its fleet at Shotton Surface Mine. The new recruits join two existing Volvo A40E haulers that have been working at the site since 2009, and are also fitted with coal handling features.
The latest A40F articulated haulers have been supplied in standard configuration and are being used to haul overburden from the more difficult areas on site where access and manoeuvrability are harder for the larger rigid haulers. The articulated haulers feature 24m³ bodies with a 39,000kg load capacity and the Volvo designed and proven drivetrain is powered by a Stage IIIB Volvo D16 low emission engine with a gross power rating of 350kW.
The EC220D excavators are working to clean off the last layers of overburden to expose the coal, which lies in seams ranging from just four inches to over 1.2m (4ft) thick. The larger 30 tonne EC300D excavators, meanwhile, are used to load coal into high bodied coal haulers.
The machines have been converted to face shovel format by Messrs Kocurek of Ipswich and feature a bespoke five metre long boom, 3.4 meter face shovel arm and 1.8m³ clamshell bucket. The EC300D features a generous forward reach of 9.25 metres and a load over height of 5.75 metres. Heavy duty guards have been fitted to the cab windows and the clamshell bucket is operated through the X1 two way proportional valve.
Both the EC220D and EC300D are powered by Volvo Stage IIIB low emission engines developing 129kW and 170kW, which deliver good performance and fuel efficiency. The engine uses precise, high pressure fuel injectors, turbo charging and intercooling plus advanced electronics to optimise engine performance.
In line with Volvo CE’s core values, Banks has adopted an environmental policy that establishes environmental control measures, minimizing potential environmental impacts of the mining operations. This includes measures to control and monitor noise, dust and vibration levels.
Text: By Mark Gunns
Picture 1: The fine black gold is easily shovelled by the Volvo EC300D
Picture 2: The operator is protected in the comfy cab
Picture 3: Modified and truly efficient