Today the UBC Mining Research Field Trip had another early start, leaving an approximately 7am. Following the 2-3 hour drive, the group arrived at Soma Coals open pit and underground operations.
After a winding road to site, we received the nice surprise that we would be provided the opportunity to go underground and see their long wall operations. The tour schedule included: underground operations, open pit operations and quick overview of the wash plant.
Upon entering the site, it was clear from the lack of organization and overall atmosphere that this mine paled in comparison to those visited previous. However, we did receive full safety gear from the mine for the underground portion.
The underground infrastructure proved to be an interesting experience. The floor of the drifts were littered with pot holes, deep puddles, larger cobbles and scrap metal which made navigation through the mine difficult and potentially hazardous. However, we were lucky enough to witness the operation of a “long wall miner” which is a continuous shearer that runs on tracks parallel to the coal seam. The shearer takes horizontal slices of the coal approximately 2.5 meters in height per pass. Large hydraulic jacks are used to provide stability at the working face and prevent rock falls.
The open pit portion of the operation is similar in scale to those in the Elk Valley (eastern BC). However, I would describe the surface mining as “cowboy” mining, as there was no survey control in the pit, limited geologist support, and really no limit on in pit equipment speed on haul roads. Overall, this mine, which is owned by the Turkish government, was a poor example of modern mining in terms of safety standards and operational practices and lacked far behind the internationally owned operations we visited previously.
We arrived back from the tour just in time to have a family dinner sponsored by the professors at a high class sea food restaurant. The food was delicious and the beer was satisfying. In the end, the bill came to 4000 TL (approximately $80CAD per head).
The rest of the night consisted of relaxing along the Mediterranean and drinking more beer.
Plan for tomorrow: Leave Izmir, Tour of a travertine/marble quarry, Arrive in Denzli.
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