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Maintaining the equipment and power systems used 24/7 at the Yallourn coal mine site to feed the Yallourn power station is critical to Victoria’s ongoing electricity supply.
Supplying approximately 22% of the state’s power needs, and 8% of the National Electricity Market, EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn power station provides an essential base load of power that is augmented by wind, solar, gas and hydro sources.
The Ventia team, working as part of the Yallourn Mine Maintenance Alliance (YMMA) with partner RTL Mining and Earthworks since 2002, is responsible for keeping the equipment used to mine the coal working around the clock. The YMMA, working with EnergyAustralia, has overall responsibility for the operation of the mine including their innovative dozer push mining system, overburden removal and excavation of ash ponds.
Ventia’s ongoing asset management program is delivered by an on-site team of approximately 24 trade employees that includes riggers, fitters, high voltage electricians, boilermakers and schedulers – amongst other roles.
Roughly once a year, the site’s overburden system pauses for a planned shut-down period over several weeks during which the team can undertake a variety of larger more complex maintenance tasks. When these occur, the maintenance team numbers increase to encompass almost 50 trades.
This year, Dredger 13 – commissioned in 1977 and weighing in at a massive 2000 tonnes - is undergoing significant upgrades, replacements and repairs. The dredger’s job is to remove the overburden to access the coal layer beneath.
The maintenance of this one piece of machinery alone requires a remarkable combination of planning, scheduling, engineering, mechanical, technical and electrical work that must be compressed into a short time frame.
In addition to Dredger 13, the Ventia team must maintain Travelling Stacker TS3, Mobile Slewing Conveyor S95 and conveyor systems. Ventia also provide maintenance support for RTL’s four ‘feeder breakers’ which feed coal onto the conveyor belt system used to transport the coal from the mine to the power station at an incredible rate of up to 2,400 tonnes per hour.
Not surprisingly, all the mining equipment is run using electricity, so Ventia is also responsible for maintaining the high voltage electricity reticulation system to keep things running smoothly.