Tag Archives: Centennial Coal

NEPEAN aims to RESolutionise the underground coal mining sector

Pillar extraction is back on the agenda again and NEPEAN Longwall is proving the coal mining doubters wrong with an ambitious and innovative project that, it says, may lead to an industry step-change, prolonging the life of underground operations by supplying a system that combines elements of both longwall and room & pillar mining methods.

Australia-based NEPEAN Longwall has a value proposition that spans all aspects of longwall mining equipment, including armoured face conveyors, beam stage loaders, shearers, drive units, electro-hydraulics, chain and flights, hoses, cables and other specific componentry.

It is known the world over for its tailored engineering capability, and its latest project – a world first – will do that reputation no harm.

“We are different to other major players in this sector as we embrace customised solutions for our customers to a greater extent,” Mark O’Toole, Business Development Manager of NEPEAN Longwall, told IM. “We are not trying to protect an inflexible supply chain, and that allows us to design the best solution for each customer.”

NEPEAN Longwall has recognised the changing market in Australia where new mine approvals are more difficult than ever, access to capital is constrained and customers are looking for cost-effective solutions to make the most of their underground reserves.

It was Centennial Coal’s Clarence mine in New South Wales and its Panel & Pillar Partial Extraction Project that gave NEPEAN Longwall the opportunity to focus on innovative mining methods using existing technologies. Centennial’s project started with concepts generated by Robert Langford (Engineering Manager, Clarence Mine), which NEPEAN Longwall turned into reality with the new system.

“There are now a number of new bord and pillar coal mining projects emerging in Australia as open-cut operations seek to access deeper reserves and head underground,” O’Toole said. “Bord and pillar operations can extract the resource quite efficiently, but this can drop off in some conditions such as lower seams.”

Longwall mines, on the other hand, rely on the complete extraction of the coal in a panel arrangement. As the panel is mined, complete subsidence or caving of the overlying rock strata occurs into the mined-out area behind the working mine face.

Pillar extraction disappeared to a large extent from Australian mines in the late 1990s due to safety concerns about the unpredictability of roof behaviour while mining. “Pillar extraction is not possible on all leases, but where it is an option, we now have a concept that provides a controlled area for safe mining,” O’Toole said.

The new concept is called the Resource Extraction System or RES for short.

This system is a hybrid between longwall technologies and bord & pillar technologies. It uses powered roof supports to control the roof in the mining area and a continuous miner to cut coal in front of the roof supports. The services to power the roof supports are able to be mounted in a centre roadway with supports laid out to the right hand and left hand. In a simple system, there may be as few as 14 roof supports used.

In a simple RES-based system, there may be as few as 14 roof supports used

“In discussions with customers and geotechnical staff there is a view that, due to the narrow working face, the roof supports will never be in yield conditions and the extraction may be viewed as sub-critical – not resulting in surface subsidence,” the company said.

For coal cutting, a continuous miner and shuttle cars are employed. The continuous miner breaks away to the right and cuts in front of the roof supports for a distance of around 12 m, as it does so the canopies advance behind the cutter head and a forepole is extended towards the face. The continuous miner withdraws from the cut and the roof supports are advanced to the face. The process is then repeated on the left-hand side. In this way the system advances through the two pillars leaving behind a goaf.

In some applications the entire pillar can be removed, which has advantages for ventilation of the face; in other applications, the pillar may be partially removed, leaving a remnant.

For a capital spend which is less than a new continuous miner the mine can benefit from increased yield from the resource while maximising the value from existing production machinery, the company says.

The RES is designed to safely remove all or part of the pillar in a room & pillar environment, with operators and equipment under the protection of roof support canopies and roof supported by traditional longwall roof support methods.

The patent-protected system also provides new opportunities for providing continuity of production during longwall relocation or during discontinuities in longwall production and the ability to mine areas in mining leases previously considered high risk, the company says.

“Reflecting on the lessons from our first project, we realised that we had to think differently about the powered roof support,” O’Toole said. “This is not a longwall. The application is quite different and the method of operating the roof support is quite different. This realisation has led to us developing lighter structures with different hydraulics that are able to move quicker. With this approach the roof support will be less costly than a typical longwall unit.”

Flexibility will remain a unique selling point of this solution, yet there are some fixed requirements to consider.

As is currently envisaged, a narrow head miner is needed for the continuous miner to work effectively. Mining operations will also have to have suitable ventilation in place to support the operations. The application of RES is best suited to geologically-stable areas with the aid of roof supports with load bearing canopy forepoles and face sprags.

The flexibility comes from the modular design of the equipment, as well as the ability to tailor the system dependent on the size of the area to be extracted and the inherent geology. The services to run the roof supports, power distribution, pumps and motors, hydraulic tank, dump valve and filters are all mounted on a modular skid, which is advanced down the roadway by the system. In other applications of the system, these services may be monorail-mounted or Pantech-mounted.

The services to run the roof supports, power distribution, pumps and motors, hydraulic tank, dump valve and filters are all mounted on a modular skid, which is advanced down the roadway by the system

Depending on the panel layout, roof supports may be added for increased width or removed for a narrower working face.

Advanced technology has been incorporated into the first project with remote operation planned from the start of production from an underground control pod. This pod, located hundreds of metres from the face, allows control of the roof supports and the continuous miner. Existing technology has been incorporated including cameras, infra-red sensors, inclinometers, transducers, Wi-Fi, flameproof screens, gas monitoring, etc. Having the operators underground allows them to double their role and perform maintenance and inspections as required, NEPEAN says.

“We have partnered with NEPEAN Conveyors to develop other applications of the concept,” O’Toole said. “Some seams will not tolerate the ‘tip to face’ requirement when a continuous miner is used, so we also have a system based around a single armed shearer and a cutting capacity of 500-800 t/h.

“It is attractive if these systems can operate as an advancing face as this eliminates costly gate road development. The panel turns out of the main headings and then starts to produce coal off the face immediately. Our current project is solving the coal clearance, ventilation and services requirements of the advancing face. It is an exciting development as the projected capital outlay is significantly less than for systems requiring a continuous miner and continuous haulage.”

He concluded: “We have been committed to the underground coal industry for the last 25 years and the addition of these systems into our portfolio allows us to cater to the changing needs of the industry over the next 25 years.”

3ME, Batt Mobile Equipment gear up for TRITEV deployment at Aeris’ Tritton mine

With the launch of the ‘TRITEV’ in Australia earlier this month, 3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment unveiled what is believed to be the first fully battery-electric retrofit 20 t loader suitable for deployment in underground hard-rock mines.

The Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader is scheduled to arrive at Aeris Resources’ Tritton underground copper mine in New South Wales later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

It follows on the heels of Safescape’s Bortana EV, launched in 2019, also as part of Project EVmine.

Steven Lawn, Chief Business Development Officer at 3ME, told IM that the machine’s development represented more than just a “diesel refit”.

“The machine we used was a second-hand Volvo L120E that required a ground-up rebuild,” he said. “The guys removed all diesel internal combustion engine components except the transmission and drivetrain. They then modelled the expected duty cycle.”

After this modelling, the designers developed a battery-electric system (battery, motor, motor control unit and ancillary items) that would suit the application at hand.

The software team then entered the process, writing the vehicle control unit software (ie the software that makes everything work), with a focus on ensuring the human machine interface remained the same so there was no difference for an operator controlling the legacy diesel variant and the battery-electric retrofit version, Lawn explained.

They then integrated the system into the existing platform before the team at Batt Mobile Equipment provided a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

Ahead of deployment at Tritton, the company plans to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales, Lawn said. This underground mine, previously owned by Centennial Coal, was put on care and maintenance back in 2014.

The partnership that delivered this industry first already has eyes on another EV retrofit, Lawn said, explaining that a Minecruiser platform for use in underground hazardous area mines is next on the agenda.

3ME Technology is understood to have an upcoming release in the pipeline in regards to its state-of-the-art battery system for mining applications, now also under demand from the defence market as indicated by recent public announcements about 3ME Technology’s participation in Australia’s C4 EDGE Program.

“The increased levels of safety and compliance achievable with the 3ME Technology battery system means that 3ME Technology is spearheading the supply of high-performance lithium-ion batteries into underground mining,” the company said.

EDL to power Centennial’s Mandalong mine with waste coal mine gas

Global sustainable energy producer EDL has announced a 20-year contract to build, own and operate a waste coal mine gas power station for Centennial Coal’s Mandalong mine, in the Lake Macquarie area of New South Wales, Australia.

When completed in late 2020, the power station will have installed capacity of 8 MW and convert waste gas extracted during mining operations into electricity to power the mine.

The Mandalong thermal coal mine is an underground longwall that commenced operations in 2005. It has approval to produce 5.5 Mt/y of coal.

EDL Chief Executive Officer, James Harman, said: “For decades, EDL has supported our customers in the mining industry to achieve greenhouse gas abatement and cost savings with our waste coal mine gas power stations,” he said. “We are delighted to provide Centennial Coal with this reliable, sustainable energy solution and look forward to a long, collaborative partnership.”

Centennial Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Peter Parry, said: “As well as fuelling nearly 40% of NSW’s coal fired electricity, Centennial is also a significant energy consumer to power our mines. EDL, by converting the methane gas we extract during the process of mining to generate electricity to meet our energy needs, provides a practical and cost-effective arrangement that also reduces our emissions.”

AIMEX back with a bang in 2019

As the Australia Federal Election campaign continues to see all sides of politics weighing in on where they see the future of mining heading in the country, the industry is gearing up for one of Australia’s largest and longest running mining exhibitions and conferences.

Registrations for Asia-Pacific’s International Mining Exhibition (AIMEX) 2019 edition are now open with more than 6,000 mining industry professionals and an additional 2,000 exhibitor personnel set to take over Sydney’s Showgrounds across three days from the 27-29 August, according to AIMEX organisers.

More than 500 exhibitors are expected with the likes of Contitech, ESS Engineering Services, Alfagomma, Cummins, Hitachi and Volkswagen signing up for the exhibition, they said.

One of those exhibitors is global technology leader Cummins. Cummins South Pacific Director of Mining, Oil and Gas Business, Steve Cummins, said Cummins’ involvement in AIMEX during its own 100th anniversary year is very important and it is proud to be involved in the exhibition as a major player in the mining industry around the world.

“A pioneer in power systems technology for 100 years, Cummins has the total power solution for the mining industry – high horsepower Quantum engines to ensure lowest cost-per-tonne, CustomPaks for mine dewatering, and power generation systems ranging from single gensets to turn-key power stations,” Cummins said.

“At AIMEX 2019, Cummins will introduce its innovative HSK78G gas generator series, a completely new design from the skid up providing reliable power regardless of the natural gas source or climate.”

For the second year, a free-to-attend multi-stream mining conference will be embedded within the exhibition providing visitors with a “unique opportunity to hear from mining innovators and disruptors at the same venue where the technology is on show”, the organisers said.

The AIMEX Conference organised by Davey Bickford Enaex, will focus on key themes surrounding the changing of mindsets and how to survive the impact of future technological, social and environmental changes. The conference will also look at the rise of automation and robotics and the use of AR and VR to enhance safety training for staff amongst other topics.

In a first for AIMEX, five of Australia’s biggest mining companies will also come together to create the AIMEX Mining Pavilion. Centennial Coal, Glencore, Mach Energy and Whitehaven Coal will join Yancoal Australia to outline their own enterprises, connect with suppliers and drive their own recruitment strategies.

Centennial Coal’s Executive General Manager Approvals, Sustainability & Corporate Communications, Katie Brassil, said involvement in the AIMEX Mining Pavilion allows the company to promote its initiatives and engage with industry and suppliers more broadly.

“We think it is a perfect opportunity for us to tell our story, not just our story in terms of Centennial and what we do and that we are loud and proud coal miners, but also the story of our communities and our most valuable assets our workforce,” Brassil said.

“Our people look forward to AIMEX. As a company, we encourage and promote innovation and more recently have been on a digital transformation journey. AIMEX provides a fantastic opportunity for our people to experience the latest products and equipment up close and to network with suppliers and industry peers.”

AIMEX Event Director, Brandon Ward, said the newly launched Mining Pavilion along with the conference component of AIMEX adds significant weight to encourage mining professionals to attend the biennial event this year.

“AIMEX is the most important mining industry event in 2019.  During these changing times it is vital that AIMEX provides a platform for suppliers to showcase their latest innovations and to give the industry a chance to come together, explore new technologies and embrace the wider mining family,” Ward said.

“We are delighted to welcome five mining companies onboard this year as part of our first AIMEX Mining Pavilion and excited to bring together our second free to attend conference which will again give attendees the chance to hear from industry experts and challenge them on what the future holds for the sector.

“Every two years, delegates from across the globe continue to make Sydney and AIMEX their home for three days in Sydney in August, and this year’s event is certainly one to lock into your diary now.”

Registrations for AIMEX are now open with full details of topics and speakers for the conference to be announced once they are confirmed. To register and keep up to date with conference news visit aimex.com.au.

International Mining is a media sponsor of AIMEX 2019

Centennial Coal looks for efficiency and transparency boost from Icertis platform

Australia mining company, Centennial Coal, has selected the Icertis Contract Management (ICM) cloud-based platform to streamline its contracting process while driving efficiency and transparency across its operations, according to the enterprise contract management firm.

The ICM platform will play a key role in accelerating buy-side contracting, improving Centennial’s compliance and optimising its commercial mining contractors’ on-site performance, according to Icertis.

“Increasing transparency into the contracting process will also improve Centennial’s efficiency by flagging contract expirations and giving the company the ability to properly plan for upcoming projects,” it added.

Centennial’s Group Manager Contracts and Procurement, Colleen Bastow, said: “Employing over 1,600 people and operating five underground mines in New South Wales, we require a contract management solution that helps us to meet our business goal of financial and operational excellence. The ICM platform will equip us with a fully-automated solution for enterprise contract management that turns static contracts into strategic assets.”

According to Icertis, Centennial selected ICM because it offered a standardised platform that seamlessly integrated with its existing systems. “The ICM platform’s scalability and ease of use will also help to accelerate adoption, collaboration and velocity to gain better control of contracting processes.”

Samir Bodas, CEO and Co-founder of Icertis, said: “Icertis has committed to increasing its presence in Australia and New Zealand by expanding our team and offerings to serve our rapidly growing customer list. The region has a large mining presence and we’re thrilled that our dedication to this region has delivered our newest customer, Centennial Coal, a company striving to offer a sustainable approach to mining. The ICM platform enables Centennial to gain full visibility into contract milestones, contractual commitments and obligations – equipping the company with tools to deliver even greater value to its customers.”

Centennial supplies coal to support 40% of New South Wales coal-fired electricity generating capacity alongside a successful export business, according to Icertis.