Four miners have been killed and two injured in an explosion that ripped through the Gai copper mine in the Orenburg Region in south-east Russia.

 

The incident occurred when the miners were planting explosives in the pit to extract copper at the mine owned by Gaisky GOK.

 

Gaisky GOK spokesman told Ria Novosti news agency that the two injured are in hospital.

Two squads of paramilitary mine rescue unit are currently working at the site to search and evacuate the remaining miners from the pit.

 

A task force of Gai fire department rushed to the site.

 

The Ministry of the Russian Federation for Affairs for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) said that the operations at the mine have been temporarily suspended.

 

Investigation is on to find out the exact cause of the accident.

 

The mine accident comes four years after the Raspadskaya coal mine explosion near Mezhdurechensk in Kemerovo Oblast, Russia.

 

The Raspadskaya coal mine explosion that occurred in May 2010 was caused by the build-up of methane gas; it resulted in 66 deaths and left 24 missing.

The Czech Republic Government may buy New World Resources' (NWR) black coal unit, OKD, in an effort to prevent thousands of redundancies.

 

NWR announced last week that it would have to sell OKD in Czech and Karbonia in Poland if it fails to reach an agreement with investors on capital restructuring by this September. The company is reeling under $1.12bn of debt.

 

Czech Republic Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said the government would want OKD to be acquired by a strategic investor, preferably a company engaged in the same field.

 

The government intends to save around 14,000 jobs in OKD.

 

OKD operates four mines in the Czech Republic, which contributed to a major part of NWR's €850m revenue in 2013.

 

However, falling coal prices and an increasing use of cheaper and cleaner energy sources, such as natural gas, have hit the company's performance.

 

In the quarter ending in March, NWR's earnings were down to €26.9m from €110.2m year-on-year.

 

In September last year, OKD announced that it plans to close down the Dul Paskov mine at Frýdek-Místek in North Moravia by the end of this year, as the mine is uncompetitive and running at a loss. The Paskov unit employs 2,500 workers.

 

In June, NWR signed a deal with the government agreeing to keep the mine open until 2017, while the government would provide CZK600m to laid-off workers, reported Radio Prague.

ZEISS has launched automated mineralogy solution Mineralogic Mining, which can perform petrological analysis to quantify minerals in real-time.

 

Mineralogic Mining is claimed to provide complete quantitative evaluation during mineral exploration, ore characterisation, process optimisation and tailings-control processes.

 

The system features a scanning electron microscope with one or more EDS detectors, a mineral analysis engine and the mining software plug-in.

 

The new technology will allow the mining industry to sustainably enhance the recovery of natural resources, the company said.

 

ZEISS Mineralogic Mining provides automated analysis, reports and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) maps by integrating the mineral analysis engine with a scanning electron microscope and energy dispersive spectrometers.

 

In addition, the solution also has the ability to tailor sample analysis workflows and select among four different mineral classification techniques.

 

With the help of image processing functions, Mineralogic Mining can distinguish between elements having similar atomic weight such as coal and iron ore. All sample analysis and processing of data is performed in real-time.

 

The ZEISS Mineralogic Mining system can be used in a variety of applications, including ore valuation and characterisation, optimisation of the grinding and beneficiation processes, environmental control and forensics, quality assurance and control, process optimisation, process mineralogy, mineral mapping, and other applications.

 

ZEISS mining segment manager Dr Ben Tordoff said: "The launch of ZEISS Mineralogic Mining marks an important return to the mining sector for ZEISS.

 

"This sophisticated tool brings new technology to mining, which requires minimal user input to generate exactly the information that is needed to make the right process decisions."

 

The ZEISS Mineralogic Mining is offered on conventional, field emission and focused ion beam electron microscopes with an option to correlate data with optical and X-ray datasets.

UK-based Hangar8 Aviation expects private aviation in the mining and gas industries to rise as companies are looking to charter services to meet their complex travel needs.

 

The growth will be driven by the demand for companies to transport officials to difficult-to-access, remote mining and drilling sites, which usually have mininmal infrastructure and lack proper transportation.

 

According to Hangar8 analysis, 81% of runways in Africa are short or unpaved. Business aircraft, which only require short runways to land, can be ideal for reaching places with poor connectivity.

 

The company reported that its charter business has seen a 25% rise in enquiries from the mining sector in the last three months, as compared with the same period last year.

 

Hangar8 CEO Dustin Dryden said: "2013 was a difficult year for the mining sector, with its top 40 companies by market cap seeing net profits plunge 72% to a decade low of $20bn. Mining stocks also dropped 23% to $280bn.

 

"However, many commentators believe that the worst is over and there will be disciplined growth and investment during 2014. In line with this, we have certainly seen an increase in enquiries from oil and gas and mining companies looking to lease and charter our aircraft."

 

With more than 50 aircraft and bases in Europe, West Africa and Asia, Hangar8 offers aircraft management, charter, sales, leasing and engineering services.

Russia's Mechel Mining is planning to invest RUR2.9bn ($80.4m) on maintenance of its production facilities this year.

 

The company will install new equipment for its facilities as part of its technical revamping programme.

 

With the exception of the Elga Coal Complex, all facilities will be installed with new equipment.

 

Under the programme, Mechel has already spent RUR1.2bn ($33.2m) on its Southern Kuzbass Coal Company and Korshunov Mining Plant.

 

Mechel OAO CEO Oleg Korzhov said: "Over the past few years we have been paying particular attention to modernising our mining segment's production facilities and launching equipment that would enable us to cut expenses and, accordingly, production costs.

 

"Even now when our financial situation is not entirely unclouded, the technical revamping programme is being implemented in full, as mining is meant to become our company's chief growth point according to Mechel's strategy."

 

The new equipments include ESH-20/90 walking excavator, which is currently being assembled at the Krasnogorsky pit, and a RUR1bn ($27.7m) dragline with 90m boom being installed at Southern Kuzbass for overburden mining.

 

The assembly, commissioning and launch of the dragline is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

 

Southern Kuzbass Coal Company, a unit of Mechel, is also installing a tunnelling machine at its Lenina mine that will allow the plant to mine and transport raw coal from horizontal and slanting mine openings. The machine will be launched in August.

 

In addition, Southern Kuzbass is assembling a new Scharf ZL 200-130-900D diesel locomotive at its New-Olzherassk mine for transportation of personnel and cargo to mine openings.

 

The locomotive features a transport platform and can transport up to 48t of cargo and can work on surfaces with angles of up to 30°, which is scheduled for commissioning later this month.

 

Korshunov Mining, another unit of Mechel, will also assemble a Liebherr R9250 mine excavator at its Rudnogorsky mine.

 

Scheduled to start operating from mid September, the excavator will have the capacity to mine more than 200,000m³ of rock mass a month.

Ukraine has signed a deal with South Africa to purchase one million tonnes (Mt) of coal after the company's coal mines in the Donbass region were shutdown due to an on-going military conflict.

 

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk was quoted by Reuters as saying: "[The rebels] bombed our main coal mines ... and so the government has already signed an agreement on the supply of 1Mt of coal from South Africa.

 

"The first vessel is loading now."

 

Currently, the country has a stockpile of around 1.7Mt of coal, which is expected to last until November of this year; the the annual demand is 50Mt.

 

In 2013, Ukraine produced 83Mt of coal, of which 60% was used to generate power.

 

The recent shortage was the result of an armed conflict between the government and Pro-Russian separatists, which affected the main coal mining areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

 

According to Ukraine military spokesman Andriy Lysenko, militants in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have also stolen around 15,000t of coal from Ukrainian mines, reported Bloomberg.

 

The country now plans to import stocks from Poland, Indonesia, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand, Ukraine energy resources director Andrey Fafaorov told RT.com.

China's largest coal producer Shenhua Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Rostec to develop coal deposits in Siberia and the Far East of Russia.

 

Under the deal, the companies also plan to develop industrial and transport infrastructure and build generating capacities and high-voltage transmission lines for exporting electricity to China.

 

Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov said: "Rostec develops cooperation with the Chinese partners in a number of areas.

 

"Strengthening of this cooperation is mutually beneficial. Partnership with Shenhua is a part of the comprehensive effort to expand the Russian energy presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Total investment volume in the project will be $8bn to $10bn."

 

As per the MoU, the firms plan to begin exploration work at Ogodzhinsky coal deposit in the Amur region of Russia and construct the $1bn coal terminal, Port Vera, in Primorsky Krai by 2016.

 

In addition, the development will see the construction of open pit coal mines and an enrichment plant, power generating facilities, and related social and transport infrastructure.

 

The coal mine, which is located in the Gerbikan-Ogodzhin coal basin, is estimated to have 1.6 billion tonnes of coal deposits and is expected to produce around 30 million tonnes of coal a year, upon going into production in 2019.

 

The project is also expected to solve the energy deficit problem of the Russian Amur region and Northern China.

 

According to the plan, the high calorific value coal concentrate will be exported to Asia-Pacific countries, whereas the lower-grade coal will be used to generate electricity at the proposed electric power plant.

Russian fertiliser maker EuroChem is planning to start production at its two mines in the country in 2017, with the aim of challenging one of the world's largest potash producers and exporters, Uralkali.

 

The company is currently working on the first phase of its Usolskiy project located in Russia's Verkhnekamskoe deposit in the Perm region, and VolgaKaliy project at the Gremyachinskoe deposit in the Volgograd region in western Russia.

 

During the first phase, the company aims to produce 2.3 million tonnes (Mt) of potassium chloride, whereas in the second phase an additional skip shaft will be constructed allowing the mine to produce 3.7Mt a year.

 

From both mines, EuroChem aims to produce an annual capacity of 8.3Mt of potash.

 

EuroChem mining head Clark Bailey was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "We expect we'll be able to mine the first potash at both mines in late 2017."

 

To support its plan, the company secured $750m financing for Usolskiy Potash last week.

 

Bailey told the news agency that: "We have lower cost of construction per tonne of potash capacity than is needed to get return on investments.

 

"Given that we have a port at the Black Sea, we think that VolgaKaliy will be able to offer a very competitive price. It is well-positioned to ship potash to Europe or Latin America, including Brazil.

 

"Probably Uralkali will have to change some of their strategy and revisit their markets."

Russian fertiliser maker EuroChem is planning to start production at its two mines in the country in 2017, with the aim of challenging one of the world's largest potash producers and exporters, Uralkali.

 

The company is currently working on the first phase of its Usolskiy project located in Russia's Verkhnekamskoe deposit in the Perm region, and VolgaKaliy project at the Gremyachinskoe deposit in the Volgograd region in western Russia.

 

During the first phase, the company aims to produce 2.3 million tonnes (Mt) of potassium chloride, whereas in the second phase an additional skip shaft will be constructed allowing the mine to produce 3.7Mt a year.

 

From both mines, EuroChem aims to produce an annual capacity of 8.3Mt of potash.

 

EuroChem mining head Clark Bailey was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "We expect we'll be able to mine the first potash at both mines in late 2017."

 

To support its plan, the company secured $750m financing for Usolskiy Potash last week.

 

Bailey told the news agency that: "We have lower cost of construction per tonne of potash capacity than is needed to get return on investments.

 

"Given that we have a port at the Black Sea, we think that VolgaKaliy will be able to offer a very competitive price. It is well-positioned to ship potash to Europe or Latin America, including Brazil.

 

"Probably Uralkali will have to change some of their strategy and revisit their markets."

Poland has rejected a proposal from coal mining company Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka to expand its coal mining operations and double reserves.

 

In July this year, the company announced its plans to double its recoverable coal reserves from the current 235 million tonnes (Mt) and extend the mine operating life to 2050, reported Bloomberg.

 

Bogdanka's operating resources are situated in the Lublin Coal Basin, adjacent to the coal deposits of Australia-based Prairie Mining, which in 2012 received permission from the Poland's environment ministry to explore the area.

 

According to the environment ministry, accepting the Bogdanka plan could put them at risk of breaching the investment protection agreement signed with Prairie Mining.

 

In April, Prairie announced plans to begin production at the Lublin fields in 2020, producing around 7Mt of coal a year and employing around 2,000 people.

 

Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka CEO Zbigniew Stopa plans to approach the government to reconsider its request for new mining licence in the K-6-7 field.

 

Located in the east of Poland in Puchaczów, Lublin Voivodeship, Lubelski produced 4.25Mt of commercial coal in the first half of the year, up by 4.2% compared to last year's figures.

 

Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka management board president Zbigniew Stopa previously said that: "Our priority for the upcoming months is the launch of the mechanical processing plant, which is about to commence.

 

"This launch will enable us to produce better quality coal from the fourth quarter onwards, which should boost our financial results. We are also preparing to install the third ploughing system which has already been delivered and is to be launched in the third quarter of this year."

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