The Chernogorsky coal mine is an open-pit hard coal mine located in Khakassia in the south of Eastern Siberia in south-central Russia. It is 100% owned and operated by SUEK-Khakassia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK), Russia’s biggest coal company.
Chernogorsky is one of the oldest coal mining site that has been producing since 1958. It is currently the biggest among SUEK’s four open-pit coal mining operations in Khakassia. Its production capacity reached nine million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) in 2019, while the total hard coal production by SUEK-Khakassia stood at 13.9 million tonnes (Mt) in the same year.
An expansion project to increase the Chernogorsky open-pit mine’s design production capacity to 12.5Mtpa was approved in March 2019.
Scheduled for completion in 2022, the Chernogorsky coal mine expansion project involves the reconstruction of existing facilities as well as the construction of new facilities at the site.
The Chernogorsky coal deposit is situated within the Minusinsk Coal Basin in the Ust Abakan region of the Republic of Khakassia. The Chernogorsky open-pit is located in the western part of the Chernogorsky coal deposit.
Coal reserves at Chernogorsky coal mine
The Chernogorsky open-pit coal mine was estimated to hold 142Mt of proven and probable hard coal reserves as of December 2019.
SUEK’s total recoverable coal reserves in Khakassia were estimated to be 342Mt. The company’s other three open-pit mines in the region were estimated to hold the remaining 200Mt of coal reserves.
The Abakansky open-pit mine located near Chernogorsky was estimated to hold 39Mt, while the coal reserves at the Izykhsky and the Vostochno-Beisky open-pits stood at 38Mt and 123Mt respectively.
Coal mining and processing
The conventional open-pit mining method involving, drill, blast, load and haul operations are employed at the Chernogorsky coal mine.
The extracted coal is sent to the nearby Chernogorsky coal washing plant for reducing the ash content and for improving the coal value. The washing plant was commissioned in 2013. SUEK-Khakassia completed the reconstruction of the Chernogorsky washing plant for an increased production capacity of 9Mtpa in 2019. SUEK-Khakassia also operates two coal-sizing facilities in the region.
The final washed and sized coal product has a calorific value of up to 5,700 kcal/kg. More than half of the coal product is exported to Europe and Asia. SUEK also operates a cogeneration power plant with 406MW installed electricity capacity in Khakassia that supplies heat and electricity for the cities of Abakan and Chernogorsk.
Mining fleet modernisation at Chernogorsky
SUEK-Khakassia has made a significant investment for modernising the mining fleet at Chernogorsky in order to maintain high production volumes with greater labour efficiency.
It introduced two Komatsu D375A crawler bulldozers, a Liebherr L586 wheel loader, a Komatsu WD600 wheel bulldozer, and two Volvo dump trucks with TONAR trailers in June 2019.
It also modernised the dragline control system at Chernogorsky by installing an advanced digital control system for electric drives in 2019.
A pilot project involving the use of 5G network on autonomous mining dump trucks is also underway at the Chernogorsky open-pit mine. The pilot project is being carried out for the trial of a completely unmanned mine system integrating robotics, industrial artificial intelligence (AI), and internet of things (IoT) on 130t BELAZ-7513R robotic dumpers at the mine.
Chernogorsky is the first mine in Russia to use the 5G network for unmanned and remote-control transport.
The project utilises the Huawei wireless 5G network for a total length of 1.5 km with two base transceiver stations operating in non-standalone mode.
Zyfra Group, a Finnish-Russian digital solutions firm, is the provider of an intelligent mine system for the 5G network-based pilot automation project at the Chernogorsky coal mine site.