Engineering Support for Start-up of Large Underground Coal Operation—Trinidad, Colorado

Starting in 2009 and continuing into 2011, Agapito Associates, Inc. has provided most of the mining engineering services required to bring this large underground, multi-seam coal mining operation into production.  At full production, the New Elk Coal Company mining complex is scheduled to produce over 3 million tons of metallurgical coal per year for 20 plus years from at least four coal seams.  The mine will utilize some of the surface and underground infrastructure remaining from two closed underground coal mines that operated on the property.  AAI’s efforts have included:

  • Preliminary Assessment
  • Feasibility Study
  • Development of geologic models
  • Resource/reserve study
  • NI 43-101 compliant Technical Reports
  • Develop and manage a multi-year, multi-drill exploration program
  • Layout of underground mine and scheduling
  • Development of pillar/entry geometry
  • Design of installed ground support
  • Assist with belt conveyor design
  • Ventilation planning and design
  • Assist with underground equipment specifications
  • Assist with surface facilities layout and design
  • Assist with MSHA plans
  • Assist with site and mine permitting

Exploration Program

Prior to AAI’s involvement with the NECC property, significant historical geologic and coal seam data was available from earlier exploration programs; however, these data had to be confirmed and supplemented to complete an NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment study for the project.  AAI developed, organized and, during the summer and fall of 2010 and 2011, managed a drilling program to confirm the resources for NECC’s initial 20-year mine plan.  At its peak, two drills, operating 24/7, and six geologists participated in the exploration program.  After completion of the drilling program, AAI organized, interpreted, and developed geologic and quality models of the coal seams from the integrated historical and new exploration data.  The exploration program also included physical property testing of the core from these holes to determine mechanical properties of the rock.

AAI estimated Mineral Resources and completed NI 43-101 Technical Reports on the NECC property in April and November 2010, and May 2011.

Mine Planning

AAI completed the initial detailed mine planning required for MSHA plans, permitting, feasibility work, and startup of mining.  AAI’s mine planning included development of

  • Production and barrier pillar sizes
  • Extraction sequencing schedules to optimize resource recovery and product quality from the multiple coal seams and resource areas
  • Ventilation plans in compliance with MSHA coal regulations that integrated previously existing and new shafts and slopes
  • Capital purchase schedules to ensure compliance with the production ramp-up schedules
  • Subsidence prediction models and mitigation guidelines related to multi-seam mining and the protection of surface structures
  • Detailed engineering of the surface facilities
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