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Management of Coal Stockpiles

AUTHOR: Anne Carpenter
DATE: October 1999

Stockpile management is an important part of the coal handling process from mine to customer. Virtually all coal producers and consumers make use of stockpiles at their facilities, either to serve as a buffer between material delivery and processing, acting as a strategic stock against supply interruptions; or to enable coal blending to meeting quality requirements. With mounting pressure to minimise the capital tied up in stockpiles, there is a need to optimise coal inventories.

This report begins by examining why stockpiles are employed. The stacking and reclaiming of piles, and the reduction of noise arising from the handling equipment is then discussed, along with stockpile automation and management. Good sampling and analysis procedures are essential for coal quality management. Sampling systems, representative samples and on-line analysis are described. Stock auditing to reconcile the amount of coal in the stockpiles is also covered. Spontaneous combustion poses safety, environmental, economic and handling problems it becomes established in stockpiles. Factors affecting spontaneous combustion are discussed with the emphasis on prevention, detection and control. Stockyard operators are under constant social and political pressures to improve the environmental acceptability of their operations. The control, prevention and monitoring of fugitive dust emissions, and the composition, collection and treatment of stockpile runoff are addressed. The prevention and control of flowslides is also covered. Experiences has shown that with good stockpile design and management, most coals can be safely stored in an environmentally acceptable way.