On May 16th 2014, the mining crew left the wonderful Lothus Hotel in Wroclaw and headed to Warsaw! The bus ride is approximately 5 hours! On the way there, we visited one of the biggest open pit coal mine in Europe – The Bełchatów mine. The site was so big that it took us a while to reach the main office. Once in the office we were given a very thorough presentation about the company and its operations.
KWB Bełchatów owns the mine which has an area of 3800 ha, with a depth of approximately 300 meters! The mine produces 40 million tonnes of brown coal which supplies the power plant. The power plant, also owned by the company, generates 5000 megawatts of electricity every year which supplies around 20% of the electricity in Poland. Currently, there are two mines in production, the Bełchatów pit (ending in 2018) and the Szczercow pit (started production in 2009). The mining method is open pit cast with a strip ratio of 3:1 ( 150 meters of overburden and a 50 meter thick coal seam). There are three key equipment: bucket wheel excavator, conveyor system and spreader. Another astongning fact about the mine operation is that around 244 million cubic meters of ground water is being pumped to the surface every year! This means that around 10% of the mineral water from the area are actually being supplied by the mining operations!
The Bełchatów Power Plant (from Wikipedia)
Soon after the presentation, we were guided to the control room, where the operation is being monitored through a big screen which allows the operators to oversee the entire mine operations. This “simplified” overview allows the operators to direct the operations with efficiency. For us, this “simplified” overview still seemed very complexed and we soon found ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of information shown.
After getting safety boots and hard hats, we hopped onto two MAN Trucks (it is a brand name) and headed to the Bełchatów pit. Everyone was astonished as soon as the pit came in our sight. After 20 minutes of bumpy truck rides we arrived at the first bucket wheel excavator.
Here is the group picture at the monstrous Bełchatów pit. The background is a bucket wheel excavator, with a diameter of 18 meters with 22 buckets, and runs on 3 500 Kilowatts engines! Just look at that magnificent machine!
The Bełchatów Mine by the Bucket Wheel Excavator
After the mine tour, we continued our journey towards Warsaw! And we arrived at the four star hotel!
Dongha & Zibai