Management of ash from coal fired power stations is a major environmental issue associated with the thermal coal industry worldwide. Traditionally, fly ash has been pumped in slurry form into ash dams. These dams can potentially occupy large areas. An alternative method to slurry pumping is to handle the ash in a dry state. At Commodore mine, ash from the neighboring Millmerran power station is being hauled in trucks and buried within the spoil of the active coal mine at the rate of approximately 1 million tonnes per annum. Environmental constraints on dumping locations and procedures are designed to minimize ash dust and trace metal leaching from the ash to the surface or ground water.
For this thesis, a series of tests of dumping procedures focusing on in-pit dumping of ash were carried out at Commodore coal mine. The objective of this thesis is to analyze the results of these dumping tests with the view to determining the optimal ash dumping techniques. The aim is to dispose of the ash by the most cost effective, environmentally responsible, and safest means. This thesis also investigates alternatives for ash handling and disposal at Commodore mine such as the possibility of producing a saleable ash product.
It is hoped that the trails carried out can form a basis for ash disposal procedures at Commodore mine. The results of this thesis may also be applicable to other projects involving the disposal of ash. Burying of dry ash has the potential, if well managed, to increase the viability of high ash coals deposits for domestic electricity generation.