A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Sarge78


Robin Hood country

sunny 20 °C

I returning to the Midland for a visit to the UK Coal Authority and Alkane Energy. The Coal Authority issues the leases and licences for coal operations around the country and houses all the coal mining records and plans in a purpose built facility. I am totally amazed at the size of their archive and the way in which it is managed. The entire collection of 120000 plans has been scanned using a variety of scanners to cope with the variation of plan sizes. These images can be accessed by computer using a search facility that looks at the metadata attributed to each image. Whole plans or parts of plans can then be printed at any required scale. A brilliant system! They have also digitised the key information from all the plans for their GIS/oracle database and update it every two months with operational mine information. No electronic submission of data and all record tracing plans are hand drawn still. The GIS/oracle system is extremely well set up and allows for automated generation of reports on properties affected by undermining.

more to follow...

Posted by Sarge78 00:35 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)


Remote Sensing & Photogrametry Conference and Camborne School of Mines

overcast 18 °C

From Sheffield I drove south to Cornwall for the Remote Sensing and Photogrametry Society annual conference at the University of Exeter (cornwall campus) which is also now home to the famous Camborne School of Mines.

more to follow...

Posted by Sarge78 00:34 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)


The Full Monty

semi-overcast 19 °C

After leaving London, I travelled up to Sheffield by train, where I would base myself for a couple of days while I visited a couple of nearby Mines. Not a bad city, famous for its stainless steel and the movie the Full Monty.
Transport within the city is quite good, with trams and buses running regularly, but becuase I'm travelling out of town I hired a car to get around. First point of call was the National Coal Mining Museum, a discontinued coal mine now used to show visitors how the industry has developed and changed over the last couple of hundred years. The museum includes an underground tour of Caphouse colliery to a seam discontinued in 1913, 140m below the surface.

Posted by Sarge78 00:22 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)


Beware of thieves and pick pockets

semi-overcast 19 °C

Arrived in London after the long haul from Australia and found the shoe box that I would call home for the next few days in Notting Hill. Nice, but not very big. No cat swinging here.
Did the obligitory tourist thing and wandered around to see the changing of the guard and took in the British Museum and Museum of Natural History. Easily a day each at each of the museums but I took the abridged tour. their collections are so vast.
On to business and the pre arranged visit to Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform - Oil and Gas section, to discuss management of petroleum rights for methane gas extraction at operational and abondoned mines. Interestingly the rights to exploit mineral resources are not managed by a single department in the UK, with coal being dealt with seperately to oil and gas, while other minerals are apparently privately owned. Health and Safety within the mines is seperate again.

Licences for methane are relatively simple, but worthless without development consent from the local councils or the agreement of the Coal Authority (I'll find out more about that next week).

Posted by Sarge78 09:46 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Check out some of my travel photos


Posted by Sarge78 10:58 Comments (0)

Mine Surveying Conference

Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa Conference

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The opportunity to attend the Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa conference and give a presentation on Mine Surveying Regulation in New South Wales was a great experience. South Africa is facing many of the same issues that Australia is in regard to Mine surveying. The day prior to the conference, many of the larger mining companies take the opportunity to gather their mine surveyors for a group meeting to discuss various issues. The availability of several of the key Institute members made it possible to hold a brief meeting with them in the afternoon along with President of PLATO (South African equivilent of BOSSI) and the President of the International Society for Mine Surveying to discuss issue effecting the Institute and Indusrty in South Africa, sharing with them some expeiences in Australia.

Thursday the conference proper commenced with a good spread of practical, technical and Institute centred presentations. Tertiary education in South Africa is set to change in the very near future which will have a significant impact on Mine Surveyors. Currently there are two avenues to a Certificate of Competency in South Africa. Diploma or degree in Mineral Surveying from a tertiary institution or through completing the Chamber of Mines exams before sitting the Certificate of Competency exam which are similar to our own in New South Wales, with the exception of Minerals valuation. The future will see the structure of the tertiary education framework change and necessitate a review of the mine surveying courses currently offered and perhaps a move to the certificate of competency being an Advanced/graduate diploma? But its early days.

Posted by Sarge78 10:32 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Lions, elephants and baboons, not your typical mining hazard

Palabora Mining Company

sunny 24 °C
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We think a few roos at the mine is pretty common, these guys get lions and elephants in the car park.

Palabora Mining Company is home to perhaps the largest man made hole in the southern hemisphere, its opencast copper mine. At roughly 2km in diameter, this circular pit is close to 800m deep. Gaining a true appreciation of it's size is hard as there's not much to provide scale. From the photo you can see the shaft head gear in the background which is over 100m high. The benches in the pit are 15m and 30m high which gives some indication also. The photo is taken from the top of one of the mine's spoil dumps that is now a tourist lookout. The pit is no longer being mined as mining relocated underground several years ago to carry on with a block cave operation below the pit. Partially as a result a significant failure of the pit has occured which can be seen in on of the photos. Consequently there is an intense monitoring program of the pit to ensure that any movement is detected and assessed. To do this the mine uses a combination of GNSS recievers, tilt metres, prism monitoring using total station observations to fixed points on structures and trig pillars and photogrametry using a hand held camera and inhouse software will soon be introduced.

The mine borders the Kruger National Park and a trip here is nearly as good as the park, with Elephant, hippo, giraffe, crocodile, lion and many others regularly roaming the site or taking up residency in one of the catchment dams. Baboons are a common pest in the rubbish bins. Safety alerts are regularly circulated advising the location of lions around the mine.

Posted by Sarge78 10:29 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Where the wild things are.

Kruger National Park

sunny 25 °C
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While in town to visit Palabora Mining Company I decided to visit South Africa's largest National Park and drop in on the wildlife.

dozens of Elephants, a leopard, a couple of cheetahs, some hippos, but no lion. Oh well can't have it all, but its quite amazing to be only metres from totally wild animals.

Posted by Sarge78 10:25 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Journey to the centre of the earth

well not quite, but 3200m deep is close enough for me.

overcast 18 °C
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At one time the deepest in the world, but still not far from it. The lowest point in the mine is around 3500m below the surface. Access to the production levels at around 3200-3300m is via a shaft, sub shaft and decline. Rock temperateure is close to 50 degrees celcius and the mine has one of the largest refridgeration plants in Africa to cool the air. This group of shafts has been operating for over 100 years and mines gold using a conventional longwall. At this depth the goaf doesn't stand for long. Development is still carried out using airleg drills, shot firing and clearance scrapers. The ore is loaded at the face by rail boggers and hauled out by rail skip, equipment that we would generally consider obsolete, but it is still used productively here in many mines.

Posted by Sarge78 10:20 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Mines Rescue training

South African style

sunny 24 °C
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Today presented an opportunity to visit the Mines Rescue Station in Evander, one of three is South Africa. This is where volunteer teams from each of the mines in the district train for typical emergency senarios encountered in Mines. The service has a long and proud history in serving the mines in South Africa and are colloquially refered to as the "Proto" team, a reference to the early breathing equipment that was labelled as a prototype. The name however stuck and is widely use through the country's mines. During the visit I observed two teams completing their quarterly training which today focussed on work load management. The pactical session involved each team member completing the set course and tasks within the simulated mine whilst having their heart rate monitored in real time. The objective was to complete the tasks/course as fast as possible, whilst minimising air comsumption and keeping the heart rate at safe level. All I can say is that experience and fitness pays off.

Posted by Sarge78 10:19 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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