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Underground connection

Work is underway on a ventilation connection between the Budryk mine and the Knurów Section. The investment project will bring significant benefits to both mines in terms of improved safety, better utilization of resources, optimized production processes and shared use of the mines' infrastructure.

photo: Dawid Lach

The underground connection has been listed as a key project in “JSW's Strategy until 2030.”

- We will want to complete the project within the next three years. In order to connect the “Aniołki” shaft in the Knurów Section with shaft VI of the Budryk mine, we will have to excavate approx. 6,900 meters of workings, including 1,800 meters of drift workings and 5,100 meters of coal workings. A total of four workings will be excavated at the same time, three at the Knurów Section and one at KWK Budryk - says Jarosław Rutkowski, project coordinator. - The underground works are not the only ones to be carried out. A lot of work is to be done in the “Aniołki” shaft itself. This is mainly related to the decommissioning of the currently installed shaft equipment including the conveyance in the shaft pipe, the decommissioning of the inlets at individual levels and the installation of new pipelines, as well as the installation of a new, more efficient main fan station - adds Jarosław Rutkowski.

Underground connections between the two mines in Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa are a standard practice. The Borynia, Zofiówka and Jastrzębie-Bzie sections are connected, and the Knurów Section is connected with the Szczygłowice Section. Now the time has come to connect KWK Budryk with the Knurów Section.

The connection of the two mines is an alternative to construction of a new upcast shaft in the western part of the KWK Budryk mining area. Shaft IV was in the plans at the design stage of construction of the Budryk mine, but for economic reasons it was not constructed.

However, the development of the mine and the descent of mining below the 1,050-meter level to the west forced the search for alternatives to shaft IV at KWK Budryk. The possibility of using the ventilation shafts of the neighboring mines: Knurów-Szczygłowice and Sośnica was analyzed. The most favorable solution turned out to be the idea of connecting the ventilation shaft of KWK Budryk with the ventilation shaft of KWK Knurów-Szczygłowice called “Aniołki”, located about 2 km in a straight line from the border of the “Ornontowice I” mining area at KWK Budryk.

Already in 2013, analyses were made of the levels of natural hazards at KWK Knurów-Szczygłowice and KWK Budryk and the impact of the ventilation connection of these mines on their reduction. At that time, the mines estimated preliminary costs of the workings and modernization of the “Aniołki” shaft, and even determined the project execution method. Unfortunately, due to the difficult situation of the mining sector in 2015, work on the project was halted.

In February 2021, the idea of a ventilation connection between KWK Budryk and the Knurów Section was reactivated. JSW's Management Board appointed a team to analyze the possibility of improving the efficiency of utilization of the resource base, improving the management of the ventilation network, improving the economic efficiency of coal mining and optimizing production processes as a result of the ventilation connection.

The results of the team's work unequivocally showed that a ventilation connection between the two plants is a much cheaper solution than building a new ventilation shaft at KWK Budryk. In addition, as a result of increased air flow, the level of methane hazard will decrease. The project will also stabilize the ventilation networks at KWK Budryk and allow the mining of larger quantities of coal. With the connection, by lowering the dry air temperature below 28°C, climate conditions at both mines will also be significantly improved. In the mined “A” area at KWK Budryk, it will increase the efficiency of working time and improve the comfort of the crew working there. In addition, the connection provides the opportunity to direct coal haulage between the mines and will significantly reduce existing costs by connecting pipelines for methane drainage, water, backfill, water drainage and compressed air.

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