Dr. Sc. (Eng.) V.G. Kilimnik, G.G. Yakubson, Dr.Sc. (Eng.) N.V. Efimova, Central Research Institute of Coal Economics and Information (FGUP TsNIEIugol)

The restructuring of the Russian coal sector was aimed mainly at the following: profitability of coal production provided by the efficiently operating regional coal companies; improvement of social environment and economics of coal producing regions; higher miners’ health, safety and welfare standards, etc. In this respect it must be noted that late in 2007 there were one hundred and seventy joint stock coal companies (of OAO, ZAO, OOO type) and holding companies in the coal sector, and nearly the total coal output of the sector was provided by private mines.    

Over the years of restructuring the coal sector has become a profitable industry, and today Russia ranks fifth in the world in terms of exports of all kinds of coal and third by its exports of steam coals. The total coal output of Russia accounts for a little more than 5% of the world’s total.

Early in the XXI century (2001 – 2007) the upward trends of the coal sector development were in progress, in the structure of the country’s primary energy production the growth of coal output reached 16.7%, that of oil output  – 41%, natural gas output increased by 12%, and electricity generation – by 13.9% (see Table 1) [1].   

Table 1 – Production of different fuels for electricity generation in the Russian Federation: 2001-2007 

Fuel

Output growth in 2007 vs. 2001

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

In absolute terms

In relative terms %

Total coal output of the Russian Federation, million t

269.3

253.4

276.5

284.1

298.3

309.4

314.2

+44.9

116.7

Total petroleum output, incl. gas condensate, ‘000 t

348,133

379,563

421,341

459,318

470,175

481,000

491,000

+142,867

141.0

Total natural gas output, million cubic meters

581,184

595,106

620,234

632,623

640,801

656,000

651,000

+69,816

112.0

Electricity generation, billion kWh

891.3

891.3

916.3

931.9

953.1

996.0

1,014.9

+123.6

113.9

In 2001 – 2007, the number of underground mines (production units), as of the year end, was reduced by 11 units (10.7%), and late in 2007 there were 92 underground coal mines in operation. The average mining depth in 2001 was 395 m, while in 2007 it reached 409 m.

The total production capacity of underground mines in 2001 – 2007 increased by 24,910,000 t (by 23.7%), and in 2007 it amounted to 139,205,000 t. A significant part of capacities was improved due to the technological refurbishing of underground mines and implementation of major mine construction project.

Significant changes affected operating underground mines in terms of relative gas content (see Table 2). In 2001 – 2007 the number of non-gassy underground mines was reduced by only one unit (5.7%), while the number of mines with high risks of sudden outbursts decreased by 2 units (10.5%); the number of the 1st category gassy mines (methane emission rate is up to 5 m3 per 1 t of daily coal output) was reduced by 5 units (by 29.4%) and that of “super” category mines (methane emission rate exceeds 15 m3 per 1 t of daily coal output) – by 6 units (by 24%); the number of mines with high risks of coal dust explosions and spontaneous combustion decreased by 6 units (by 7.6%).  

However, the number of the 3rd category mines (methane emission rate is 5-10 m3 per 1 t of daily coal output) increased by 4 units (by 33.3%), and that of mines with high risks of rock bumps – by 10 units (by 28.6%)

Table 2 – Underground mines (production units) of the coal sector by relative gas content

Mine category

2001

2007

2007 vs. 2001.

In absolute terms

In relative terms, %

Mines with high risks of sudden outbursts

19

17

-2

89.5

“Super” category gassy mines

25

19

-6

76.0

3rd category gassy mines

12

16

+4

133.3

2nd category gassy mines

10

10

±0

-

1st category gassy mines

17

12

-5

70.6

Non-gassy mines

17

16

-1

94.1

Of the total number: mines with high risks of dust

explosions and spontaneous combustion

79

73

-6

92.4

                         mines with high risks of rock bumps             

35

45

+10

128.6

Table 3 shows the data on the parameters determining the annual coal output of operating coal faces in the sector [2].

Table 3 – Parameters determining the annual coal output of operating coal faces: 2001-2007

Parameters

2007 vs. 2001

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

In absolute terms

In relative terms, %

Total length of coal faces developed annually, m

25,558

23,683

21,602

19,903

19,192

19,849

17,895

-7,663

70.0

Average operating length of the total coal face line, ‘000 m

31.2

27.7

25.9

22.3

22.0

21.4

21,3

-9.9

68.3

Average coal seam thickness, m

2.51

2.58

2.54

2.91

2.94

3.07

3.15

+0.64

125.5

Total number of operating coal faces as of the year end:

225

203

183

169

157

149

131

-94

58.2

     incl. CMCF*)

163

151

128

113

104

103

92

-71

56.4

Average coal face length, m

143

143

143

142

142

150

162

+19

113.3

Average monthly advance of the line of operating coal faces, m

60

61

69

83

84

88

86

+26

143.3

Average daily coal output per face, t

1,192

1,233

1,365

1,671

1,722

1,986

2,076

+884

174.2

    incl. CMCF*)

1,485

1,567

1,759

2,330

2,410

2,760

2,854

+1,369

192.2

*) completely mechanized coal face

In the situation of 10.7% reduction of the number of underground coal mines in 2001 – 2007 the decrease of the total length of coal faces developed annually reached 7,663 m (30%), and the average operating length of the total coal face line was cut by 9,900 m (by 31.7%).  

The total number of operating underground coal mines in the sector in the period under consideration was reduced by 94 units (by 41.8%), the number of completely mechanized coal faces was cut by 71 units (by 43.6%).

In the 7-year period the following changes took place in the coal sector: the average thickness of a working seam increased by 6 cm (by 25.5%); the average length of a coal face increased by 19 m (by 13.3%); the average monthly advance of the line of operating coal faces became longer by 26 m (by 43.3%). As a result, the average daily output per coal face in the sector grew by 887 t (by 74.2%), including that of completely mechanized coal faces – by 1,369 t (by 92.2%) [3]. The progress of the average daily coal output per face for the seven-year period of 2001 – 2007 is reflected in Fig. 1.

In 2007, the average output per coal face in the Donets Basin was 1,199 t, while in the Kuznetsk and Pechora Basins it reached 2,320 t and 2,632 t respectively.

At underground mines of some coal basins the average daily output per coal face is 4,000 – 5,000 t and even more:

– in the Pechora Basin: at Vorgashorskaya Mine – 4,486 t, at Intinskaya Mine – 4,029 t, at Vostochnaya Mine – 4,792 t;

– in the Kuznetsk Basin: at Kirov Mine – 6.236 t; at 7th November Mine – 5.457 t; at Taldinskaya Zapadnaya-1 Mine – 6,910 t; at Taldinskaya Zapadnaya-2 Mine – 5,416 t; at No 7 Mine – 9,374 t; at Zarechnaya Mine – 6,430 t; at Kyrgaiskaya Mine – 4,219 t; at Gramoteinskaya Mine – 4,689 t; at Raspadskaya Mine – 5,902 t; at Olzherasskaya Mine – 4,908 t, etc. [4].

The output of operating coal faces in the period under consideration increased by 9,213,900 t (by 11/2%) that can be proved by the data presented in the Table 4.

Table 4 Coal output of operating faces (thousand tonnes), by coal seam dip and thickness

Working coal seam thickness, m

Year Coal output of operating faces (%), by coal seam dip:

 Below 35 °

36°… 45°

46° and above

Total

below 0.7

2001

-

-

-

-

2007

-

-

-

-

0.71 – 1.20

2001

3.66

-

-

3.50

2007

1.98

1.33

0.20

1.93

1.21 – 1.80

2001

17.55

3.07

1.74

16.87

2007

12.33

20.67

1.16

12.02

1.81 – 3.50

2001

59.81

33.09

24.91

58.38

2007

42.58

51.73

25.04

42.08

above 3.50

2001

18.98

63.84

73.36

21.26

2007

43.11

26.27

73.60

43.96

Coal output of operating faces, ’000 t

2001

82,471.8

1,364.9

2,486.8

86,323.5

2007

91,685.7

323.2

2,845.7

94,854.6

The analysis of the data from the Table 4 shows that the major coal output of operating coal faces is provided by the extraction of coal seams of 1.8 – 3.50 m and of over 3.50 m thickness, and up to 35° dip. In 2001, the total coal output from seams with up to 35° dip within the whole range of their thickness amounted to 95.5%, while in 2007 –  96.6%. Thus, the coal sector extracts coal seams occurring in favourable geological conditions, and a trend is observed towards the increase of the share of coal seams of over 3.5 m thickness and of up to 35° dip extracted by high-performance coal-face equipment of domestic and foreign origin. 

Higher efficiency of coal face operation is explained by quantitative and qualitative changes in the structure of development faces. For instance, in the seven-year period under considerations the number of development faces in the coal sector as of the year-end was reduced by 16%; the number of development faces with coal and rock loading was cut by 28%; the number of faces equipped with roadheaders remained unchanged, while the number of development faces equipped with scraper winches was reduced by 64%. The rates of advance of all underground workings increased from 75.3 to 81.2 m/month (by 7.5%); the rates of machine drivage increased from 106.4 to 122.7 m/month (by 15.3%).  

The quantitative and qualitative changes in fixed assets (machinery and equipment as well as buildings and structures) providing for the enhancement of coal output per mine.

Progress of the average daily and average annual coal output per mine is reflected in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2 – Progress of the average daily and average annual coal output per mine (production unit)

Index

2007 versus 2001

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

In absolute terms

In relative terms, %

Average daily coal output per mine, t

2,554

2,195

2,394

2,763

2,985

3,234

3,193

+639

125.0

Average annual coal output per mine, ‘000 t

856

718

841

943

1,037

1,101

1,113

+257

130.0

As it can be seen from Fig. 2, the increase of the average daily coal output per underground mine is 25% (639 t), the growth of the average annual coal output is 30% (257,000 t).

The number of surface mines (production units) in 2001 – 2007 in the coal sector increased by 21 units (by 18.3%), and in 2007, there were 136 surface coal mines in operation, the expansion of productive capacities of surface mines amounted to 61,158,000 t (35.4%).

In the analyzed period the number of operating power shovels was reduced by 25 units (by 1.7%), and late in 2007 there were 1,497 machines of this kind in operation. 

In 2001, the number of bucker-wheel excavators in operation in the coal sector amounted to 45 units, and in 2007 –to 46 units. 

The scope of overburden removal in surface mines in the seven-year period increased from 713,700,000 m³ to 1,038,406,000 m³ (by 45.5%).

The volume of overburden material removed from surface mines per 1,000 t of coal output increased from 4,219 to 5,178 m³ (by 22.7%), in the Kuznetsk Basin – from 5,906 to 6,906 m³ (by 16.9%), in the South Yakutian Basin – from 5,130 to 6,558 m³ (by 27.8%).  In the Kansk-Achinsk Basin the volume of the removed overburden material per 1,000 t of coal output decreased from 1,261 to 1,134 m³ (by 10.1%).

The overburden ratio at surface mines in this period in the sector increased from 4.23 to 5.19 m³/t: from 5.95 to 6.80 m³/t in the Kuznetsk, while in the Kansk-Achinks Basin it decreased from 1.26 to 1.13 m³/t.

The average annual overburden removed by a power shovel increased from 1,232,000 to 1,596,000 m³ (by 29.5%), the average annual coal output of a power shovel increased from  574,000 to 791,000 t (by 37.8%).

In 2001 – 2007 significant changes took place in the breakdown of machinery for overburden removal processes (see. Table 5).

Table 5 – Machinery and equipment breakdown (%) for overburden removal processes.

Year

Volume of the removed overburden material at surface mines to the total volume of overburden removed in the sector, %

Hydromechanization

Other

Overburden loading by excavators onto:

Overburden conveying bridge

Direct dumping

railway cars

dump trucks

2001

96.2

16.6

51.0

1.3

28.2

3.4

0.5

2002

96.9

16.3

58.3

0.8

24.6

2.8

0.4

2003

96.6

14.8

60.3

0.4

24.5

2.6

0.3

2004

97.4

12.7

62.2

0.6

22.0

1.8

0.7

2005

98.0

11.4

65.4

0.6

20.6

1.6

0.4

2006

98.1

10.0

68.4

0.5

19.2

1.4

0.3

2007

98.8

8.9

71.0

0.5

18.6

1.1

0.4

2007 vs. 2001, %

+2.6

-7.7

+20.0

-0.8

-9.6

-2.3

-0.1

The analysis of data in the Table 5 shows that in 2001 – 2007 the share of railway transport in overburden removal processes decreased by 7.7%, while that of dump trucks increased by 20%, the share of direct dumping decreased by 9.6% [2].

Certain changes were also observed in the breakdown of the machinery for coal transportation at surface mines of the sector (see Table 6).

Table 6. Breakdown of machinery for coal transportation at surface coal mines.

Year

Total

railway

conveyor

dump trucks

hydraulic

other

2001

100.0

33.2

5.4

60.4

0.3

0.8

2002

100.0

28.4

4.3

65.9

0.3

1.2

2003

100.0

28.1

5.0

65.2

0.4

1.4

2004

100.0

22.7

3.6

70.7

0.2

2.8

2005

100.0

21.4

3.4

72.7

0.4

2.5

2006

100.0

20.6

3.6

74.1

0.1

1.6

2007

100,0

19.0

3.8

75.8

-

1.4

2007 vs. 2001,  %

±0

-14.2

-1.6

+15.4

-

+0.6

In the period under consideration the share of the railway transport in the total coal transportation at surface mines of the coal sector was reduced by 14.2%, while that of dump trucks increased by 15.4% (see Table 6).

Thus, at the end of the seven-year period the share of dump trucks in coal and overburden transportation at surface mines exceeded 70% of the total that is explained by the higher maneuverability and functional flexibility of this transport.  

Accelerated rates of technological refurbishing provide for the expansion of surface mine capacity. The progress of average daily and average annual coal output of a surface mine (production unit) for the analyzed period is reflected in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3. Progress of the average daily and average annual coal output per one surface mine of the coal sector.

Index

2007 vs. 2001 

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

In absolute terms

In relative terms,%

Average daily coal output of a surface mine (production unit), t/day

3,962

3,717

3,918

4,373

4,261

4,378

4,401

+439

111.0

Average annual coal output of a surface mine (production unit), ‘000 tpy

1,349

1,274

1,309

1,386

1,479

1,554

1,533

+184

113.6

The data from Fig. 3 shows that in the analyzed seven-year period the average daily coal output of a surface mine increased by 439 t (+11%); the average annual coal output of a surface mine increased by 184,000 t (+13.6%).

The growth of daily and annual coal output of underground and surface mines in the coal sector was accompanied by the reduction of the average number of the total employees, coal production workers at underground and surface mines and by the enhancement of coal output per man.

The reduction of the average number of the total personnel in the analyzed period amounted to 154,427 (47%); the growth of the annual coal output in the Russian Federation in this period reached 43.2 million t (16%), at underground mines – 13.4 million t (14.1%); at surface coal mines – 29.9 million t (17.2%). The average number of coal production workers at coal mines was reduced by 35%, and at surface mines – by 15/2%. At the same time the average monthly output per coal production worker increase by 70% at underground and by 38.5% at surface mines (Table 7).  

It must be mentioned that underground and surface mines of Russia produce high-ash coals. For instance, in 2007 the average ash content of coal in the sector was 18.9%, in the Donets Basin it was 30.3%, in the Kuznetsk Basin – 18.1% and in the Pechora Basin – 32.4% [2].

Therefore in terms of coal equivalent the annual coal output in the sector and in coal basins is significantly lower than the total tonnage of run-of-mine coal actually mined and delivered to the surface (Table 8)  

Table 7 –  Progress of coal output and average monthly output per production worker in the coal sector, at underground and surface mines

Year

Annual coal output in the Russian Federation,

million t

Including:

Average number of coal production workers

Average monthly coal output per coal production worker, t

Underground mines

Surface mines

Coal sector

Underground mines

Surface mines

Coal sector

Underground mines

Surface mines

2001

269.3

95.2

174.1

189,678

117,842

71,836

116.6

68.8

194.7

2002

253.4

86.6

166.8

175,473

105,205

70,268

118.3

70.4

190.0

2003

276.5

93.2

183.3

163,605

95,676

67,929

137.7

82.8

215.0

2004

284.1

101.7

182.4

148,212

84,920

63,292

159.1

102.1

235.5

2005

298.3

103.5

194.8

150,246

87,302

62,944

164.6

102.3

251.0

2006

307.5

107.9

199.5

143,512

81,776

61,736

176.9

112.0

262.9

2007

312.5

108.6

204.0

137,556

76,612

60,944

184.9

117.0

269.6

2007 vs. 2001: in absolute terms

+43.2

+13.4

+29.9

-52,122

-41,234

-10,892

+68.3

+48.2

+74,9

In relative terms, %

116.0

114.1

117.2

72.5

65.0

84.8

158.6

170.0

138,5

Table 8 – Coal output in Russia (in terms of coal equivalent), million t.c.e

Year

Coal Sector

Incl. by basin

Total

Underground mines

Surface mines

Donets

Kuznetsk

Pechora

2001

188.1

75.1

113.0

6.2

107.7

13.0

2002

175.1

65.7

109.5

5.3

106.2

8.7

2003

166.7

66.2

100.6

4.7

95.8

9.1

2004

167.5

70.5

97.0

4.2

100.4

10.0

2005

174.3

72.3

102.0

5.3

105.5

8.3

2006

184.1

77.7

106.4

4.5

114.3

9.3

2007

233.4

87.8

145.6

5.1

152.8

8.3

2007  vs. 2001: in absolute terms

+45.3

+12.7

+32.6

-1.1

+45.1

-4.7

in relative terms, %

124.1

116.9

128.8

82.3

141.9

63.8

In 2001 – 2007 production costs of 1 t of coal output in the sector increased from 289.01 RUB to 660.07 RUB (2.28-fold), at underground mines – from 352.25 RUB to 826.87 RUB (2.54-fold ), at surface mines – from 228.98 RUB to 560.83 RUB (2.45-fold).

The average wage of a coal production worker at underground mines is extremely low: in the Podmoskovny Basin – 7,500 RUB (US$ 325), in the Donets Basin – 9,000-12,000 RUB (US$ 390-520), in the Pechora Basin – 12,000 –25,000 RUB ($US 520 – 1100), in the Kuznetsk Basin – 11,000 – 35,000 RUB ($US 480-1,500). The minimum pension of a coal miner as an average does not exceed 25% of the average monthly wage before the retirement.

In terms of health and safety, as well as accident rates the situation in the coal industry of the early XXI century dramatically worsens: in the 2001-2007 period  937 miners were killed in fatal accidents involving a group of people. The number of miners injured in mine accidents increased by 110 men or 83.3%, fatal accident rates increased by 40% (Table 9).    

Table 9  Fatal accident rates in the coal industry of Russia

Year

Average number of the coal sector personnel

Number of fatalities

Number of fatalities per 1 million t of coal output

2001

328,357

132

0.50

2002

291,204

85

0.34

2003

250,624

116

0.42

2004

181,282

153

0.54

2005

187,767

124

0.42

2006

176,486

85

0.41

2007

173,930

242

0.70

2007 vs. 2001:  in absolute terms

-154,427

+110

+0.20

in relative terms, %

33.0

183.3

140.0

Coal industry development goes on, underground and surface mines, coal preparation plants renovate their fixed assets, new CPP construction is in progress. For instance, in 2007, within the framework of the major construction programme 38 underground coal mines were technologically refurbished with a total 3,620,000 t expansion of the annual production capacity.  Technological refurbishing of 22 surface mines was effected to expand their annual production capacity by 4,090,000 t. A 2,000,000 t annual capacity expansion was provided by the technological re-equipment of 12 coal preparation plants.  

References:

1. Analytical review: Coal in Russia’s Economy in 2007. M.: ZAO Rosinformugol, 2008 (in Russian).

2. Coal Industry of the Russian Federation in 2007, 3 volumes. M.: Rosinformugol, 2008, - vol. 2, p. 191. (in Russian).

3. Coal Industry of the Russian Federation in 2007, 3 volumes. M.: Rosinformugol, 2008, - vol. 3, p. 95. (in Russian).

4. Coal Industry of the Russian Federation in 2007, 3 volumes. M.: Rosinformugol, 2008, - vol. 1, p. 95. (in Russian).

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