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EU millions for reduction of methane emissions at Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa

 JSW S.A. announced the launch of new methane emission reduction programs with a budget of EUR 23 million at today's (7 September) conference “Methane from coal mines – current status and challenges.” The first project, the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, received a record subsidy of EUR 11 million. This is the largest EU grant to go to the Polish mining industry. As a result, the JSW-owned Pniówek mine will have the world's first dedicated installation for reduction of methane emissions into the atmosphere from abandoned areas of a working mine.

photo: Joanna Karwot

The European Research Fund for Coal and Steel rated the project submitted by JSW the highest of all the applications. The Fund appreciated not only its innovative nature but also its extreme importance for environmental protection.

- This issue is our priority, stemming directly from the “JSW Group Strategy.”In the document we have assumed that the carbon footprint will be reduced by 30% by 2030 and that carbon neutrality will be achieved in 2050. These goals are to be achieved mainly by reducing methane emissions, which account for 74 percent of JSW’s carbon footprint - says Tomasz Cudny – President of the JSW S.A. Management Board.

Already today JSW is the leader in mine methane drainage recording an efficiency of 35 to 42 percent, with the world average not exceeding 30 percent. This applies primarily to methane captured from the seams where mining is carried out. Meanwhile, methane also migrates from idle workings, although in this case its concentration is much lower and has significant variability.

- The methane concentration in such a case is often less than 30 percent, which, under the current mining regulations, does not allow this gas to be captured by a methane drainage station. This is because it poses no danger to miners and escapes from the mine along with the ventilation air. JSW is the first mining company in the world that has decided to reduce methane emissions also from post-mining goafs in abandoned areas of a working mine. Pniówek is ideally suited for this pioneering project due to the multi-seam nature of the deposit - emphasizes Artur Badylak, Director of the Methane Drainage and Management Department at JSW S.A.

The Methane Emission Reduction Project is of research and implementation nature. Its budget is nearly EUR 22 million, half of which will be financed by EU funds. The project is being implemented by a consortium consisting of scientific and research institutes affiliated together with JSW in the International Center of Excellence on Coal Mine Methane ICE-CMM Poland. JSW is the lead partner and, thanks to the involvement of the Central Mining Institute, it has been possible to attract foreign partners, namely research centers from Romania and Spain, to cooperate.

The MERP project will begin with survey work that will determine the level and locations of methane accumulation in the closed areas of the Pniówek mine. Gas migration paths into the ventilation air will also be determined. On this basis, a parallel methane drainage system with reduced gas concentration will be developed. The scope of work includes both the design and construction stages. This way, a surface methane drainage station will be developed in the Pniówek mine with networks of underground pipelines with methane intakes, metering system and automatic control room.

The methane extracted from post-mining goafs will be used to produce electricity in gas engines connected to power generators. The project will reduce methane emissions by 19 million cubic meters per year and produce 60,000 MWh of electricity in the methane utilization process.

The project will ultimately be rolled out in all JSW mines. It can also be successfully used in any multi-level coal mine in the world with a structure similar to that of KWK Pniówek.

Another project that has received funding of EUR 900,000 – this time under the European Master Mine program from EU's Horizon Europe research fund – is the smart methane drainage system, which will also be built at the Pniówek mine. The project, implemented by JSW S.A. and the Central Mining Institute, is of research and implementation nature, and aims to optimize and improve the efficiency of the mine's methane drainage system through its automation and digitization. As a result the capture of methane released during mining will be more effective. This will improve the safety of mining crews and reduce methane emissions, as less of this hazardous gas will migrate into the atmosphere with ventilation air.

-The project, which will be implemented at the Pniówek mine, is an important element of the pan-European Master Mine program established for EU producers of critical raw materials, including JSW mining coking coal. The smart methane drainage system which we will design and implement together with Central Mining Institute will ultimately serve not only our mines. This technology will benefit mining facilities around the world. This will be our contribution to improving occupational safety in the global mining industry and reducing methane emissions from the global mining sector - says Tomasz Cudny, President of the JSW S.A. Management Board.

The implementation of the smart methane drainage system at the Pniówek mine will begin with an inventory-taking of the methane drainage network. Thorough work will then be carried out to study and determine its parameters. Based on this, Central Mining Institute specialists will design a new network of sensors and control devices. New algorithms will be developed for the system, which will allow the system to operate autonomously and fully automatically, without the need for constant operator supervision.

- The methane drainage process is complex and depends on many factors. One of them is atmospheric pressure. The lower the barometer readings, the more methane is released from the rock mass, while at higher atmospheric pressure the opposite is true. The methane drainage system must therefore respond flexibly and quickly to the occurring changes. The smart methane drainage system will allow us to react in real time to any changes thanks to automation, and this will directly affect the effectiveness of the methane drainage process - stresses Artur Badylak, Director of the Methane Drainage and Management Department of JSW S.A.

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