Page 4: The Asset Optimisation process
Anglo American’s optimisation process sets out a clear view of how operational improvement can be planned for. There are five phases, starting with identifying an opportunity and finishing with putting an improvement into practice. An example of this process was the recent development of methane flaring at the New Denmark coal mine in South Africa. The colliery drills boreholes from the surface to drain the build-up of methane (a harmful greenhouse gas) in the mine.
Opportunity stage - In 2010 the ventilation and occupational health manager at the mine, motivated by a genuine concern for the environment, started to investigate ways to reduce the mine’s carbon footprint. He found that methane flaring is regarded to be a clean development approach. Here was an opportunity to reduce the mine’s environmental impact. The problem was that the boreholes were situated at remote farms and different boreholes needed to be used on a regular basis.
Idea stage - A number of options were investigated but research indicated that a mobile flare design would solve the problem. A Swiss company was commissioned to design a suitable device. Methane flaring involves burning the released methane gas. The by-products of flaring have a much lower greenhouse effect than the methane.
Initiative stage - A detailed plan was then put together with technical experts from Anglo American.
The project stage - The plan was approved and nine million Rand was allocated to the project in 2010.
Business as usual - The volume of methane flared each day is registered at the central control room. The project has been registered with a United Nations approved verification agency. The project flares four tonnes of methane per day. This earns precious recognition and a financial reward, in the form of carbon trading, to the company for its efforts in greenhouse gas management.
The project is estimated to provide a return of 4 million Rand a year for the first ten years of operation. The project is ongoing and the methods are being shared across Anglo American.