Manufacturing News

Coal mine industry digging digital, green transformation

Riding a driverless, rubber-tired vehicle to a 150-meter deep mine has become a daily routine for miners of Shangwan coal mine in the city of Ordos, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Thanks to the digitalization of the coal industry, miners no longer need to enter the deep mineshafts via walking or riding on a small, outdated train.

"The 19-seat new energy vehicle is equipped with advanced technology like lidar sensors and millimeter wave radar sensors that enable it to run deep into the coalface along a planned route without human operation, which is safer and quicker," said Shen Fei, director of the mine's electromechanical information center.

After half an hour, Shen arrives at the coalface and makes a video call to the control center on the ground. "The full deployment of the 5G network makes instant messaging possible for underground miners," Shen said.

Since intelligent transformation was launched three years ago, Shangwan, with an annual output of 16 million metric tons of coal, has witnessed remarkable progress in its productivity. Machines have replaced people in a total of 36 posts, which reduces the miners' heavy physical work.

According to an official statement from the Ministry of Science and Technology, China will accelerate the application of artificial intelligence in 10 scenarios, including coal mines. Unmanned operations, intelligent patrols and remote controls will become the new normal in mines in the future.

The 17th Yulin International Coal and High-end Energy Chemical Industry Expo was held from April 7 to 9 in Yulin, Northwest China's Shaanxi province. The event brought together over 60 foreign guests as well as 756 companies from home and abroad, to explore the way ahead for energy development.

China has been accelerating the construction of a new energy system and growing its capacity to ensure the nation's energy supply. It has achieved remarkable results in the green and low-carbon transformation of the country's energy mix.

Advancing the clean and green transformation of fossil energy has remained a priority in the country and major coal-producing provinces have announced measures to peak carbon emissions in the near future.

For example, to promote high-end, diversified and low-carbon development of the coal industry, Shaanxi will make efforts to produce new carbon-based materials like biodegradable plastics and polyester, according to a statement from the provincial government.

As a coal-producing stronghold, Yulin has set an example. The world's first coal-based ethanol project was located in Yushen Industrial Zone in Yulin, co-developed by the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co Ltd.

"By using low-cost coal as a raw material to produce ethanol, thereby replacing bioethanol, the project can save as much as 1.5 million tons of grain each year. It not only realizes the clean and efficient use of fossil fuels, but also helps to ensure food security," said Liu Shixiong, vice-managing director of Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum Yushen Energy & Chemical Co Ltd.

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