Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak and First Deputy Governor of the Kemerovo, region Maxim Makin, were shown round the SUEK-Kuzbass facility by SUEK Group Chief Executive Vladimir Rashevsky when they visited the site on 28 August 2015.
The Minister visited a unified control-analytical centre (UCAC). Chief Executive of OJSC SUEK-Kuzbass, Evgeny Yutyaev outlined the UCAC principle to the Minister, which by its scale, technical and technological equipment has no equivalent in Russia or abroad.
Mr Yutyaev explained that all data from mines and open-pits feed simultaneously into the central control room at SUEK-Kuzbass and SUEK’s head office. Multi-level control enables reliability and accuracy when monitoring mining, thus minimizing the so-called ‘human factor’.
The entire process from coal mining to the loading of railcars is centrally controlled. It was explained to the Minister that digital technologies are used more often in the coal mining industry now. As an example, Mr Rashevsky pointed to the recent launch of a unique longwall face at Polysaevskaya mine that allows unmanned mining. Asked by journalists whether he shared SUEK Group Chairman Andrey Melnichenko’s view that coal would play a key role in the global energy balance for a long time to come, Mr Novak said he agreed with that forecast. He also stressed that the future development of the coal industry rested heavily on the introduction of new, effective and safer technologies in mining and processing.
Mr Novak also visited Belovskaya GRES (part of the Siberian Generating Company, SGK). Particular attention was paid to the new equipment – power units No.4 and No.6, which were put into operation in 2014. After reconstruction the installed electric capacity of Belovskaya GRES increased by 40 MW to 1240 MW, making it the number two power plant in the region by capacity. The Energy Minister also participated in Miner’s Day celebrations and congratulated the miners: “Historically, Kuzbass is the heart of the coal industry in Russia where more than half of all Russian coal is produced. For coking coal, this figure is closer to 75%. The Kuzbass region also accounts for around 75% of Russian coal exports”.
Mr Novak emphasised that, despite the difficult situation in the economy, the volume of coal production in Russia last year amounted to more than 358 million tonnes – the highest figure for the entire post-Soviet period.
He pointed out that this year's coal production was not decreasing and was growing even faster.
The Minister explained that the coal industry faced a number of challenges in the future, notably dealing with issues of safety, coal supply to the domestic market and increasing the appeal of mining as a profession among young people. He highlighted a long-term development programme for the Russian coal industry (running until 2030) which has been developed to tackle these problems. The programme covers the modernisation of production, the expansion of the resource base, the establishment of new centres of coal mining and improved mine safety