Having previously stayed at a mine in Kyrgyzstan some 4,000m above sea level, I felt that I was relatively well prepared for my latest overnight stay in a remote part of Kazakhstan. After an epic eight-hour drive to the Shubarkol Komir coal mine, travelling cross-country from Karaganda, I can honestly say that this was another incredibly unique experience.
The mine commenced operations in 1985 and is a vast 6.5 x 3km site that produced 10.3 million tonnes of coal in 2015. Its total measured and indicated resources are estimated at 1.5 billion tonnes, with an estimated lifespan of up to 70 years!
So far from anywhere, with nothing to see or do for miles around, the mine is a small self-sufficient town where its 2,100 employees share their lives with a fleet of Hitachi excavators and rigid dump trucks. These guys (and their machines) are a special breed and I am full of admiration for their teamwork and community spirit.
A special thank you from the team at RED to Turkuaz Machinery’s Project Manager Ryspek Baizhanov, who helped to organise our access to the mine, transported us around for two days and catered to our every need. Ryspek is responsible for the maintenance of the mine’s ultra-large Hitachi excavators on a 24/7 basis along with the authorised Hitachi dealer’s other 13 employees based at the site.
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