TECHNOLOGY, CUTTING-EDGE DESIGN, EXPERIENCE COME TOGETHER TO EXEMPLIFY PROCESSING SUCCESS

By Donna Schmidt, Field Editor

The 1,400-tph Leer prep plant incorporates a duplicate circuit design to produce a met and steam product.

Just a few thousand feet from U.S. Route 50 and Three Forks Creek that parallels it in the foothills of the northern West Virginia panhandle, and just downhill from a new longwall mine, sits a state-of-the art preparation facility that could serve as a model for other preparation facilities.

When faced with strong headwinds, businesses often react one of two ways: run from problems and surrender, perhaps waiting to be forced out, or view the time as an opportunity to face the challenges head-on, adapt and relentlessly seek out new goals. ACI Tygart Valley’s Leer preparation plant, an Arch Coal subsidiary, in Grafton — part of the Leer mining complex in Taylor County — has clearly done the latter and is becoming the epitome of strength, flexibility and persistence.

The steel construction Leer Prep Plant, which totals approximately 93,000 square feet and 7.5 stories, was erected by Powell Construction. Work took just over a year, commencing in September 2011 and wrapping up in October 2012, just in time to accept tonnage from the newly finished Leer underground operation and just months before Leer’s longwall would take its first pass and ramp up the pace of preparation. Arch Coal Director of Preparation Greg Dehart was a central visionary behind the plant’s design.

It did not take long before the heavy media cyclone facility was at peak, 1,400 tons per hour, and Plant Manager Randall Corder makes sure that goal is met safely and efficiently. Corder, a four-year Arch veteran with 18 years of preparation experience, was also present to load one of the first rail cars from the Leer loadout when that portion of the complex shipped its first coal in late October 2012.

According to management, those design features which were important to include in Leer are the very same aspects that make the facility unique and unlike most other currently active preparation plants. At the center of that is a two-stage design on the facility’s heavy media cyclone circuits, reflux classifying circuits and desliming circuits. The two are split vertically under the plant’s massive roof to allow for both a low-ash metallurgical product and a higher-ash middlings product to be produced; -2”x1mm to HM cyclones, -1mmx100M to the reflux classifiers and -100Mx325M to column flotation. The resulting products are then sent to independent stockpile for loading.

The loadout team can load a train of as many as 130 railcars at 4,000 tons per hour.
The loadout team can load a train of as many as 130 railcars at 4,000 tons per hour.
The plant operator can monitor all activity from a control room that acquires data in real time from a network of PLCs.
The plant operator can monitor all activity from a control room that acquires data in real time from a network of PLCs.

“The rewash circuits incorporated in the design of the plant are unique to coal preparation,” Corder said of the circuit design. It also keeps production steady during times of needed maintenance, when one side of the building can be working as normal while another is being serviced; the vertical design makes such tasks even easier and safer for all involved and allows proper room for personnel movement in nearly every cor