Coal industry embraces recycling that cuts costs

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-08-05


Lu'an Group is one of the pioneers in Shanxi to turn coal into clean fuel through liquefaction. [Photo by Sun Ruisheng/China Daily]

In a coal-rich province like Shanxi, the clean production, efficient development and use of coal can play an important role in sustainable development. That is what the latest practices of the local coal-mining and energy-production enterprises show.

Tunlan Coal Mine, a coal-mining and coal-fired power generating enterprise in the Shanxi city of Gujiao, for instance, is contributing to sustainable development by establishing an innovative coal-refuse recycling and reuse project.

The coal ash from its near-mine power plant is now transported via conveyor belts to its depleted mining shafts for refilling, reaching a depth of up to 400 meters underground.

An executive of the company said such a practice has multiple benefits in both economic and environmental terms.

"It can effectively solve the problem of solid waste discharge and avoid the risks of geological disasters," the executive said. "This is also a practical solution to save on the costs of waste disposal and shaft refilling."

Lu'an Group based in the city of Changzhi is another industrial player that has offered sustainable solutions for the clean development of coal.

The company is the operator of several mines containing coal with high sulfur content. High-sulfur coal has been deemed a variant with lower combustion efficiency and a higher rate of emissions and is rejected by many coal-consuming enterprises.

The company's solution to this problem is turning the lower-grade coal into cleaner fuel through liquefaction.

Lu'an Coal-Based Clean Energy, one of the branches of the group, recently launched a power generation project fired by liquefied coal. The facility can process 1.8 million metric tons of coal a year.

The practices of both Tunlan Coal Mine and Lu'an Group are part of Shanxi's efforts in developing a "green"-or environmentally friendly-coal industry, which is made possible through the use of new and high technologies.

Shanxi's coal-mining companies are now vigorously upgrading their operations through the use of digital technologies. According to the Shanxi Energy Administration, the province is now home to 10 pilot coal mines for intelligent operations and 20 pilot coal mines for green production. The total number of intelligent-mining shafts owned by various companies has reached 328.

As a result of the upgrades, the majority of coal output, or 75 percent, is now produced by mines with advanced, efficient and clean-production facilities.

While upgrading the coal-mining industry, Shanxi has also stepped up efforts to develop other clean energy resources like solar, wind and hydraulic power. The capacity of power generation plants based on clean and renewable energy resources now accounts for 34.3 percent of Shanxi's total, local statistics show.

Shanxi witnessed rapid growth in the development of the solar and wind power industries during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). Those years saw wind-power generation capacity increase at an average annual rate of 24.16 percent, while the growth rate for solar-power generation was 63.22 percent. These ranked Shanxi among the fastest-growing provinces in the two sectors.

Han Linfang contributed to this story.