UNSW China Field Trip
After much preparation, organising and planning, ten mining engineering students from the University of New South Wales finally touched down in China. With a packed schedule, everyone was excited to experience everything China has to offer, including the culture, traditions, food and most importantly mining practices.
Over the twelve days we visited four universities in three different cities including: Shandong University of Science and Technology (Qingdao), Taiyuan University of Technology, China University of Mining and Technology Beijing and the University of Science and Technology Beijing. It was interesting to meet and discuss with the Chinese mining engineering students the varying university curriculums and the respective mining industries and practices. All the campuses we visited had impressive, state-of-the-art research equipment. This included interactive models demonstrating various mining methods, advanced CT scanning and rock dynamic testing facilities.
The greatest anticipation of the trip was visiting the four mine sites which included:
- Daliuta Underground Coal Mine: One of the largest underground mines in China, located near the city of Ordos, Inner Mongolia. Mining approximately 20-30Mtpa with a 7.7 metre Single Pass Longwall. It was hard to believe the scale of this operation as we walked through the large shields that towered above us. As we walked up the face, the shearer came into view, now parked up so we could get close. Each drum was more than three metres wide and felt like the wheel of a big haul truck.
- Anjialing Open Cut Coal Mine: This large and advanced open cut operation in Shouzhou City, Shanxi boasted a 20Mtpa production with a fleet of approximately 80 haul trucks! We even were able to witness a blast take place.
- Dongtan Coal Mine: Multi-seam, Longwall Top Coal Caving operation in the Yanzhuo coalfields. Owned and operated by the Yan Zhou Coal Mining Company (the parent company of Yancoal in Australia), the mine produces approximately 10Mtpa. As the group descended down the shaft an air of excitement could be felt amongst the students as being able to see and experience a mining method that is rarely utilised in Australia was incredibly exciting. Notably, one of the greatest challenges for this operation is seismicity and coal bursts, which was evident in the poor roof conditions and heavy-duty roof supports. In order to manage this, the operation utilizes stress relief technologies (e.g. large diameter boreholes), hydraulic fracturing to assist in fracturing the thick competent roof strata, another unique method not commonly used in Australia.
- Shanshandao Gold Mine: One of the major gold mining operations in China, mining in unique circumstances under the seas in Laizhou City, Shandong. The Shandong ZhongKuang Group is one of the largest gold mining company in the region managing five highly productive operations. They produce approximately 5tpa, equivalent to almost 170,000 ounces, with an average grade of 2.5g/t across their operations. Unfortunately we were unable to visit the Shanshandao mine as planned due to safety concerns. Instead, however, we visited their ‘training mine’, essentially consisting of just the development headings and roadways at this stage. It was a bizarre feeling walking around a ‘deserted’ mine with no equipment or machinery in sight!
Our final two days were spent at leisure, where we soaked up everything Beijing had to offer including the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and of course Peking duck!
This trip would not have been possible without the guidance and expertise of Dr Chengguo Zhang, our patterner university Shandong University of Science and Technology who organized all in-country travel and accommodation; as well as the support of MERE, the New Colombo Plan, AusIMM, the Sydney Mining Club, Coal21 and Evolution Mining.
Students that attended the trip included: