The Road to Glory: Nigahi Haul Road

Resource Digest - - CONTENTS -

The air thick with smell of po­ten­tial, the sight of mam­moth ma­chines, sounds of ca­pac­i­ties and amidst all this — a strik­ing stretch of broad­ways topped with glis­ten­ing tar. The 15-mil­lion-tonne Nigahi ex­udes a com­pelling charm... com­mands ad­mi­ra­tion. Nigahi is the flag­ship open­cast coal min­ing project of North­ern Coal­fields Ltd (NCL), a sub­sidiary of na­tional min­ing com­pany Coal In­dia Ltd (CIL).


An old adage goes, “There is no traf­fic jam on the ex­tra mile.” Nigahi went an ex­tra mile with its haul road by turn­ing it into a ‘Four Lane Haul Road’. And to­day, the road net­work inside the Nigahi mine is one of the fore­run­ners in haul road in­fra­struc­ture in In­dia.

The net­work has two pair of roads for Heavy Earth Mov­ing Ma­chines (HEMMS) mov­ing to­wards the coal­face and away from the coal­face (ie to­wards the OB dump) and one pair of roads for other ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic. The ma­jes­tic stretch of roads run­ning par­al­lel to each other and the Heavy Earth Mov­ing Ma­chines’s run­ning smoothly over it makes one pon­der about the gen­e­sis of the mul­ti­ple-lane haul road idea.

The four-lane haul roads at the Nigahi mine are mar­vel of willpower. His­tor­i­cally, 1,000 mm-1,200 mm of av­er­age rain­fall is ac­counted for dur­ing mine plan­ning. But last year rain­fall went be­yond all cal­cu­la­tions and the fig­ure touched a record high of 2,000 mm. Roads were af­fected; pro­duc­tion was stymied; ma­jor re­pair works were pre­dicted. How­ever, what was not pre­dicted was the vi­sion of the chief of Nigahi.

Nigahi Project Of­fi­cer Har­ish Duhan re­calls the mo­ment when Nigahi Gen­eral Man­ager Chan­chal Goswami asked his team,“can we build haul roads sim­i­lar to ex­press­ways?”

Faces were stunned; ;ogic re­signed. But as they say, there is fine line of dif­fer­ence be­tween lead­er­ship and strate­gic

lead­er­ship; con­vic­tions were held high, the goal was set.

With an ac­tion-ori­ented plan, things started mov­ing to mea­sured tones of data and met­rics. Teams were meet­ing mul­ti­ple times in a day. A mix of con­stants and vari­ables were fac­tored in — space, el­e­va­tion, in­cline, ter­rain, load, rolling re­sis­tance just to name a few be­cause count­ing all the fac­tors would have one run out of breath. Jus­ti­fied. Af­ter all, it was a haul road. In mines, ma­chines are not just an­other lump of me­tal. In mines, ma­chines move earth. Sup­port­ing the speed and weight of earth­movers is a hu­mon­gous task for any struc­ture.

Go­ing ahead on con­struc­tion, a low lead dump­ing space was ze­roed in on — such a space is char­ac­terised by prox­im­ity to the ex­ca­va­tion point where dumpers need to travel lesser dis­tances for of­fload­ing. The man­age­ment de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily sac­ri­fice 1 km by 80 me­tre of the said space.

In min­ing, any cut­back in dump­ing space has a di­rect bear­ing on pro­duc­tion. But the Nigahi man­age­ment was al­ready through with cal­cu­la­tions. They knew that choos­ing a long term per­spec­tive over in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion would be a win-win sit­u­a­tion as the space could eas­ily be re-used later. A fine bal­ance was struck be­tween short term pri­or­i­ties and long term vi­sion. The pan was fi­nally out — the re­sources, the peo­ple, ev­ery­thing was in-house. White course grained sand­stone nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring in over­bur­den (OB) con­cen­trate was iden­ti­fied for work­ing with lay­ers com­monly called ‘cour­ses’ in haul road ter­mi­nol­ogy. An in­te­grated ap­proach for ma­te­rial and de­sign was put in place. As of man­power, mul­ti­ple teams con­sist­ing of hand­picked work­ers, op­er­a­tors and of­fi­cers were con­sti­tuted. The teams took turns and worked day and night to com­plete the project.

At the end of Novem­ber, the roads were com­mis­sioned. The mar­vel of de­sign, the mar­vel of willpower was there for ev­ery­one to see — state-of-art in­fra­struc­ture, four colos­sal lanes ready to carry mighty HEMM’S. The op­er­a­tors were elated; teams were sat­is­fied. The sprawl­ing mine had this strange air which as­serted — noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble. The “Nigahi Haul Road is the quin­tes­sen­tial ex­am­ple of a safe and cost-ef­fec­tive con­struc­tion process, which boasts of retro=re­flec­tive tapes as the only ex­ter­nal cost in­curred on the project,” re­marks­duhan.

The road has been in op­er­a­tion for more than six months. And ever since it be­came op­er­a­tional, the ac­crued ben­e­fits of the road seem to be pil­ing up day by day — queue­ing-free move­ment of dumpers (haul trucks), in­creased haulage per tonne, re­duced op­er­at­ing costs of ma­chines, in­creased ma­chine pro­duc­tiv­ity ca­pac­i­ties to name a few. A sig­nif­i­cant im­pact of the road is aug­mented safety and en­hanced op­er­a­tor’s com­fort. “With a height­ened feel of safety, I now have to ex­pend less phys­i­cal and men­tal en­er­gies while steer­ing the dumper,” says Da­yaram Singh, Se­nior Dumper Op­er­a­tor with Nigahi. An­other mile­stone at­trib­uted to the newly built haul road was the avail­abil­ity of 2 mil­lion tonnes of ex­posed coal as on March 31, 2017. The Rea­son: The con­struc­tion of haul road al­lowed the re­gres­sion of the ramp foot to an ex­tent where more coal was ac­ces­si­ble and mine­able. This was the first time in the his­tory of the mine that a sig­nif­i­cant quan­tity of ex­posed coal was avail­able in year end­ing. “The road has been lauded by many dig­ni­taries and reg­u­la­tory bod­ies like the Direc­torate Gen­eral of Mines Safety (DGMS)”, Col­liery Man­ager G Se­na­p­ati re­called ex­cit­edly.

Team Nigahi de­serves all the recog­ni­tion for its love for merit. Merit is dif­fi­cult to pre­serve. Medi­ocrity would have been much eas­ier — get the roads re­paired and start op­er­a­tions. But they chose to rise above medi­ocrity, went be­yond the pre­dictable and wrote a new def­i­ni­tion of pos­si­bil­i­ties. True, be­ing a strate­gic leader is about ask­ing the right ques­tions, “Can we build a haul road sim­i­lar to the ex­press­ways?” With the dawn­ing of dusk, LEDS dot­ting the road light up… and the Haul Road shines with glory un­par­al­lel.




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