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Accidental scam

10 October 2012, 11:43
This article is about a scam on a coal mine in Mpumalanga.  In fact it was not quite a scam but rather a managerial oversight which cost the poor worker dearly. In fact the mine scored quite a bit due to this oversight but few were aware of it.     

I worked almost 5 years on this colliery: Two years on the continuous miner section three years on the long wall section. The continuous miner is a coal cutting machine that cuts a 6 metre wide tunnel and  as high as the top of the coal seam. The cut coal is loaded into a shuttle car and is driven to a loading point on the section conveyor belt. and from there to surface;.    

The shuttle cars then used were capable of carrying 10 tonnes of coal per Trip. The machinery is driven by electricity,. A far cry from yesteryear where the bulk of the mining was done by humans. Each section was given a target, in tonne, to achieve, and the surplus will make up a bonus. Lekker ne but not quite. For a particular section the targets were usually the same. Must be stated here that the shuttle car was used as a measuring device and when loaded to capacity it was 10 tonne. Overload it then the top coal layer will slide off and back to  10 tonne. The shuttle car trips were counted by a worker at the belt head and he noted down every shuttle car.     

In this particular mining area the exposed floor was  flat and remained so without much undulations other than an odd one or two over a long length. The roof, some call it a hanging wall,  matched the floor well. This means that the average coal height does not vary much over a long distance..    

Bonuses were paid practically every month then that stopped despite the fact that according to the shuttle car tally we were well ahead of the target. We received an information slip every month to indicate the performance figures for that month, bonus-less.  Every month the surveyors measured up the volume of coal cut and after corrections it was presented to management to process.  It was noticed that the density  figure did not tally with the actual density in the section. An investigation was carried out and the erroneous density found to be the cause of the discrepancy. A recalculation proved the density was indeed the cause of the problem. When a target is exceeded it means beer and braai and of course the bonus.  Circa 1996/97 the DME abolished  booze on mining property
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