01 October 2012

ArcelorMittal Kazakhstan coal pioneers methane power project

01 October 2012 - ArcelorMittal Kazakhstan’s coal mining team is deploying technology to use gas from the country’s mines to generate electricity. 

In a first for the country and for ArcelorMittal in Kazakhstan, a team of mining engineers at Lenina mine in Karaganda region has pioneered a way to use coal-bed methane for power generation. The gas is captured and then used as feedstock to generate 1.4MW of electricity – around 20% of the mine’s total power needs. As well as removing potentially dangerous methane from the coal mine, the project has also helped to save US$300,000 in costs over nine months by creating a captive power plant. 

Sergazy Baimuhametov, advisor to the head of the coal department at ArcelorMittal Kazakhstan, explained why Lenina coal mine was well suited as the pilot for this project: “There has to be a certain concentration of methane, of not less than 30%, as well as a stable flow of gas, and Lenina mine met these requirements.” 

The project, which cost US$2m, entered the testing phase last November and was officially opened in July, with government representatives attending the launch. 

The coal department plans to expand the programme in 2013 into other mines. ArcelorMittal operates eight coal mines in Kazakhstan: Abaiskaya, Saranskaya, Kazakhstanskaya, Tentekskaya, Kostenko, Kuzembayeva, Lenina and Shakhtinskaya. 

The Lenina project, together with similar projects to use methane rather than vent it out, will help ArcelorMittal Kazakhstan avoid costs if the government opts to introduce fines for methane emissions. 

The project’s environmental credentials are in line with Kazakhstan’s move to comply with the provisions of the Kyoto protocol – an UN-led agreement to fight global warming – that the Kazakh government ratified in September 2009. The government is gearing up to trade its greenhouse gas emission quotas on the Chicago Climate Exchange, and income from selling quotas on the exchange can be used to invest in environmental projects, such as the Lenina methane project. 

The coal team is currently investing more than US$100m in capital projects for ArcelorMittal Kazakhstan’s mines. 

Source: ArcelorMittal