Minerals2015, 5(3), 546-569; doi:10.3390/min5030509 - published 25 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This contribution presents an innovative and integrated framework for real-time-process reconciliation and optimization (RTRO) in large continuous open pit coal mines. RTRO-Coal is currently developed, validated, tested and implemented as part of a multi-national multi-partner European Union funded R&D project. The key concept is to promote a shift in paradigm from intermittent discontinuous to a continuous process monitoring and quality management system in large scale coal mining operations. The framework is based on a real-time feedback control loop linking online data acquired during extraction rapidly with a sequentially up-datable resource model. The up-to-date model is integrated with a real-time optimization of short-term sequencing and production control decisions. Improved decisions are expected to lead to increased resource-and process efficiency and support a sustainable extraction of natural resources. This contribution introduces to the framework, discusses main building blocks and illustrates the value added by the means of selected examples.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 527-545; doi:10.3390/min5030508 - published 25 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Due to modern mining methods deployed in recent years, production of coal mines has been expanded significantly compared to thirty years ago. As a consequence, the mining depth of coal mines is becoming ever deeper. A common world-wide problem that underground coal mines are currently experiencing is the hazard caused by the underground hot environment, which also promotes a great need of reliable mitigation measures to assist mine operators controlling the heat stress for miners as well as maintaining the normal operation of the mine. In this paper, a model for underground air-route temperature prediction in ultra-deep mines based on previous findings was developed. In developing this model, the idea of heat balance was used to establish the temperature calculation equation. Various underground heat sources (air compress, wall oxidation, underground heat, machinery, etc.) are covered in the model to improve the prediction accuracy. In addition, a PC-based numerical tool was also developed to aid users using such a mathematical model. Finally, a few temperature measurements for an ultra-deep underground coal mine were performed to demonstrate the applicability of the proposed mathematical prediction model.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 507-526; doi:10.3390/min5030507 - published 14 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The structural changes along the c axis, of the Ba-exchanged montmorillonite (Swy-2-Ba), under variable relative humidity (% RH), is investigated. In this regard, the arrangement, amount and position of both exchangeable cation and the water molecules in the interlamellar space (IS), are evaluated. This aim is achieved using the X-ray diffraction (XRD) profile modeling approach that consists of comparing experimental and theoretical patterns calculated from structural models. The contributions of the hydration states and the interlayer water amounts, as a function of the % RH, are registered by quantitative XRD investigation. The validated structural models are heterogeneous, suggesting various proportions of layer types at different RH ranges, which means the coexistence of different mixed layer structure MLS packages, exhibiting different proportions of layers with contrasting hydration states. This result is attributed to the orientation of the applied hydration sequence. Indeed, the interlayer water molecule amounts, which led to the appearance of a logic hydration hysteresis, are strongly affected by hydrous perturbation.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 488-506; doi:10.3390/min5030488 - published 22 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Evidencing ancient interspecific associations in the fossil record may be challenging, particularly when bacterial organisms have most likely been degraded during diagenesis. Yet, documenting ancient interspecific associations may provide valuable insights into paleoenvironmental conditions and paleocommunities. Here, we report the multiscale characterization of contemporary and fossilized calcifying bacterial colonies found on contemporary shrimps from Mexico (La Paz Bay) and on 160-Ma old fossilized decapods (shrimps) from the Lagerstätte of La Voulte-sur-Rhône (France), respectively. We document the fine scale morphology, the inorganic composition and the organic signatures of both the contemporary and fossilized structures formed by these bacterial colonies using a combination of electron microscopies and synchrotron-based scanning transmission X-ray microscopy. In addition to discussing the mechanisms of carbonate precipitation by such bacterial colonies, the present study illustrates the degradation of bacterial remains occurring during diagenesis.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 473-487; doi:10.3390/min5030473 - published 22 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Steelmaking relies on iron ore and metallurgical coal as main ingredients, the trade of which is hypothesized to theoretically change in tandem. However, strong correlation is not evident in historical trade prices of steelmaking inputs. To determine causes to this occurrence, the market factors that influence the Australian iron ore and metallurgical coal industries were studied. Data was collected over the past decade for worldwide resource production and trade quantities of crude steel, iron ore, and metallurgical coal. The data was analysed to reveal trends, allowing examination of the macroeconomic trade of metallurgical coal and iron ore with relation to worldwide and country specific steel production. It was determined that the influential growth of China’s steel production has spurred the growth of worldwide iron ore demand, which was met with increased production and supply, from Australia. The increased metallurgical coal demand has been met with increased production within China locally. Measures of supply elasticity were created for worldwide iron ore and metallurgical coal trade, where comparisons between Australia’s industries to the relevant greatest competitor were examined. The results, along with respective resource production data, highlighted the elevated competitive position that Australian iron ore producers enjoy compared to metallurgical coal producers. Trade characteristics revealed the different market structures that iron ore and metallurgical coal industries operate in, prompting a discussion of the effects these markets have on the two Australian industries.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 452-472; doi:10.3390/min5030452 - published 9 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Drainage from metal-sulphide rich rocks may cause considerable environmental stress in the form of elevated sulphate and heavy metal contamination of the environment. Mine draining effects from closed mines may be abated using indigenous and introduced microbial communities for sulphate reduction and metal precipitation at the mining site. Here we characterized the general and sulphate reducing bacterial (SRB) community of Kotalahti Mine (Finland). The mine was flooded after closure and sulphate reduction and metal precipitation was induced by addition of pig manure sludge into the Vehkankuilu shaft. Water was sampled from Vehkankuilu and Ollinkuilu shafts from depths −10, −30, −70 and −100 m 15 years after the treatment. The water in the shafts differed from each other biologically and geochemically. The shafts are not directly connected except by some fracture zones, and the Ollinkuilu shaft is used as a reference for environmental monitoring. The detected bacterial communities from both shafts contained methylotrophic γ-Proteobacteria, hydrogenotrophic and methylotrophic β-Proteobacteria and fermenting bacterial clades. The concentration of SRB was low, at most 4.0 × 103dsrB genes·mL−1, and the SRB affiliated with Desulfobulbus and Thermoanaerobacteriales clades. Despite the obvious success of the mine as an in situ bioreactor for increasing water pH and removing sulphate and heavy metals by induced sulphate reduction under suboptimal temperature, only a small portion, less than 0.5%, of the bacterial population in the mine water was SRB.