Friday, July 31, 2015

Coal Trip 7/29/15


My friend Wayne and I exchanged email for about three months trying to work out a date to make a trip to the coal mine.  Fortunately it has been too hot to forge for a while so I haven’t been needing it to stay busy.  My bin probably didn’t have 50 pounds left in it when we set off for Oklahoma Wednesday morning.

Wayne and Dianne arrived here about 0830 with a trailer which could carry 2 1/2 tons.  I drove my Pickup which could carry a ton and picked up my friend Tom to ride along for interesting conversation and driving help.

We stopped in Coffeyville for lunch then proceeded to the mine.  Wayne had made arrangement for us to get a tour of the strip mine so we did that before loading.  When I made my first trip to the mine some years ago they were working a seam about eight miles north of the grinding/screening site where the scale house is located.  They have finished working there and it is reclaimed and back in grass. The site we got to see is a mile or so southwest of the pick-up site.

We followed the supervisor to the hole and walked around to spots where we could look down and watch the heavy machinery working.  The coal seam is 12”-18” thick and about 50 feet below the surface.  They use huge dozers to move away the overburden and create the sloping drive path down to the coal seam.  A thin cover is left over the seam until the actual coal removal process begins.

A mining shovel creates a high-wall and bites away at it and fills haul trucks which drive the overburden up to the surface and dump.  A high-dump coal loader scoops up the coal and fills the trucks which move the coal to the crusher site.  After the coal has been taken away the backfill process begins.

Removing the Overburden.  The coal seam is the flat area in the upper left corner.
Pushing overburden to backfill mined area.
Leveling the Top. 
Creating the high wall. 
Mining shovel loading the Haul Truck.
High Dump Coal Loader.
After the tour we drove back to the scale house and weighed in and drove to where the stoker coal was piled.  The operator of the high-dump loader was very patient and accommodating, as usual.  His bucket holds close to three tons and we only need to load a fraction of that.  He cannot see my pickup bed from the cab so it takes some guiding to get loaded without getting buried.  I take rakes, shovel and broom so I can fill every bit of the bed and clean up.  It takes the operator three lifts to complete our fill as we work to rearrange the coal between each drop.  It was hot and dry but not windy and the sprinkler trucks had been watering the roads so it was the cleanest trip I have experienced.

Filling my Tundra.

Filling Wayne's Trailer.

Tom drove us back to the scale and we weighed out at exactly 2000 pounds.  Earlier I told the scale operator that was the amount I needed.  She seemed amazed that it was precisely what I got - to the pound.  The price was $68.00. Add on about $55.00 for gas and that isn’t bad for a fuel budget. At my current forging rate that should cary me for a couple of years.

Google Earth View of the Crush Site.
Google Earth View of the Mine.

We drove back to Coffeyville and filled up with gas for the trip home and got some cold drinks.  The air-conditioning didn’t quite keep up on the home trip but otherwise it was a great day.    Home again at 1830.
Filling My Coal Bin.

I remain somewhat astonished and grateful for the friendly and patient attention we receive from every person I have encountered at the mine.  I feel sort of guilty for bothering them with our pitifully small purchases which cause them more trouble than their big customers.

This diagram does a pretty good job of illustrating the coal strip mining process. http://digital.library.okstate.edu/oas/oas_htm_files/v57/p173frames.html

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