Innovative Method is Safer Way to Wash Steelmaking Coal Samples

Vancouver, BC – August 13, 2020 – A new Geoscience BC minerals research report demonstrates an innovative and safer way of assessing the economic viability of steelmaking coal samples.

Steelmaking coal from mines in British Columbia contains mineral and ash particles, which producers must remove to produce a clean sample for accurate coal and coke quality characterization.

Over the past three years, Geoscience BC has funded a series of projects by researchers at the Canadian Carbonization Research Association (CCRA) to develop and test a new, water-based Roben Jig (also known as a Boner Jig) method. The Roben Jig uses a simple water-based shaking technique to wash coal samples as effectively as traditional processes, without the use of carcinogenic organic liquids.

"In this third phase of the project, we aimed to bring the testing up to a pilot scale size. We were able to compare the product from the Roben Jig process to traditional coal washing methods as well as an industrial wash plant. The clean coals from these methods were also carbonized in a pilot coke oven which is the gold standard for coke evaluation," said CCRA's Melanie Mackay, lead author of the Producing Clean Coal Samples from Western Canadian Coalfields Using the Water-Based Roben Jig Process: Application to an Industrial Setting report.

She added: "Our results show that the water-based Roben Jig method produces similar quality coal to an industrial wash plant and resultant cokes had the same qualities. The benefit is that it was done without the potential hazards of organic liquids for laboratory operators, or a negative impact on the results of the clean coal and coke analyses.”

Coal is BC’s biggest export, with coal mines supporting communities in the Northeast and Southeast regions. In 2019, BC coal mines produced 30 million tonnes of coal valued at over $5 billion.

Geoscience BC Vice President, Minerals Christa Pellett said: "This practical innovation can reduce the coal exploration sector’s reliance on heavy organic liquids, removing a safety risk to laboratory operators while maintaining testing quality.”

Accessing Information

View the project page 2018-034 for more information.

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For more information, please contact:
Richard Truman
Geoscience BC