Tag Archives: coal mining

Hexagon and BUMA successfully deploy fleet management solution in Indonesia

Hexagon’s Mining division says it has been awarded an eight-year fleet management project by PT Bukit Makmur Mandiri Utama (BUMA) in Indonesia.

As part of this project, Hexagon successfully deployed 150 units of HxGN MineOperate OP Pro to BUMA’s IPR site operation in Indonesia with the system optimally running within three months, the company said.

The phased deployment covers Hexagon’s fleet management, asset health and enterprise analytics solutions implemented by the Hexagon team on site from June to September 2022.

BUMA was established in 1998 as a family business and is currently the second largest independent coal mining contractor in Indonesia.

Delta Dunia Makmur acquired BUMA in 2009 and has since been overhauling it into a more streamlined corporation. It holds approximately 20% of the market share and provides coal mining services to many of Indonesia’s largest and longest-running names in the coal industry, according to Hexagon’s Mining division.

Simon Stone, Vice President of APAC, Hexagon’s Mining division, said: “We are looking forward to strengthening our relationship with BUMA and accelerating their digital transformation journey. Like BUMA, Hexagon firmly believes in safety and efficiency, which makes this partnership and collaboration highly valuable to both parties.”

HxGN MineOperate OP Pro, the company says, offers open-pit mines high-precision guidance for dozers, drills and loading equipment. The solution improves bench elevations, reduces dilution and decreases rework to improve site safety, efficiency and profitability. Hexagon’s enterprise integration enables BUMA a single source for reporting and support across their fleet.

PT Bukit Makmur Mandiri Utama President Director, Pak Sorimuda Pulungan, said: “In following management’s Technology Transformation Project outline, Hexagon’s suite of integrated products and industry proven technology solutions played a major role in the decision-making process. Hexagon has set the new standard of being a reliable technology partner supported by an expert local team.”

RPMGlobal adds gas drainage insight to XPAC underground coal scheduling platform

RPMGlobal has released what it says is another industry first with new Gas Drainage Scheduling functionality inside its XPAC Underground Coal Solution (UGCS).

This functionality has been developed with some of Australia’s largest underground coal miners, it noted.

XPAC Solutions are a suite of commodity-based mine planning software solutions specifically built for different commodities and mining methods. It is 100% script-free and made up of pre-defined logic, which, when combined with the tacit knowledge of mining engineers, automatically determines what is practically possible to achieve across one or many mining operations, the company says.

For many coal miners, understanding the impact of gas drainage activities on production can be an extremely challenging task. Until now, there were no software solutions dedicated to this specific task, according to RPM. Engineers were forced to rely on spreadsheets to understand when the drainage of each gateroad was completed and, therefore, the associated impacts on the critical development required for the next longwall move.

Because of the disparate systems, it has been hard to consider gas drainage at the same time as the mine’s production schedule, according to David Batkin, RPM’s Head of Product Strategy.

“The gas drainage functionality of UGCS provides a step change in scheduling gassy underground coal mines,” he said. “The solution tightly integrates the drainage activities into both the mine design and the scheduling processes. It makes gas drainage a key consideration every time the schedule is updated.”

The solution allows the user to directly include factors that influence drainage times – like gas content and permeability – into the in-situ model. When users design a series of longwall panels, gas drainage stubs can be inserted automatically, along with the associated patterns that will be drilled from them. These drill pattern envelopes adjust dynamically based on the longwall dimensions and gateroad properties, but users are also free to refine everything in the model.

The rigs used to perform the gas drainage drilling are treated as independent resources and are scheduled in the same way as continuous miners and longwalls. Rules govern when the drill sites become available and, once they have been drilled, the schedule starts tracking drainage status as soon as each pattern has been drilled.

Mitigation strategies for gas drainage challenges are typically required several years in advance if they are to be effective, RPM says.

As a result, a range of tools have been provided to analyse these challenges and communicate when they need to be implemented. Animations highlight the status of drill sites, so it’s clear when they are available for drilling, when they are drilled and when they are being drained. The drainage status of all development is also displayed and warnings are generated automatically whenever mining is impacted by incomplete drainage.

Batkin stated the solution has been designed to make it as practical as possible for mines with gas drainage challenges.

“This solution has been produced in collaboration with underground miners who face these challenges day in and day out,” he said. “They have helped us take a very practical approach to the problem.

“Our current partners have provided extremely positive feedback that confirms UGCS directly addresses the gas drainage challenges they routinely face. We are excited to have worked with them to provide a solution of this calibre.”

This gas drainage module will be available in the next release of the Underground Coal Solution.

Komatsu launches Joy MATS6 shearer for Chinese longwall mining market

To help Chinese longwall mines realise higher production and less downtime, Komatsu has introduced the Joy MATS6 shearer.

The Joy MATS6 Tier II comes with the reliability attributes of Joy machines, with all components manufactured under rigorous Joy quality processes. Because the machines are assembled in China with many Chinese-made components, a MATS6 shearer can be built and delivered relatively quickly, according to Komatsu.

Advanced control systems protect the machine from mechanical and thermal overload, while advanced diagnostics enable faster troubleshooting.

In addition, by incorporating the tie-rod chassis connection, the MATS6 can be assembled faster, both in the workshop and underground, and its modular design allows more material to pass under the machine body. Comprised of three high-tensile fabrications with a slim main section, the MATS6 has no under-frame. This design allows quicker adaptation to different mining scenarios, more efficient rebuilds and easier maintenance, Komatsu says.

Coming with longer lasting components, the MATS6 is able to mine larger panels reliably between rebuilds or even mining multiple panels without a rebuild. Additionally, the machine’s longer machine chassis life can provide a higher return on initial investment.

The machine weighs 115 t, has a cutting height of 2.5-6 m, a maximum total power of 2,495 kW, cutting power of 2 x 900 kW and 1,200 kN of haulage pull.

Any discussion of increasing longwall productivity and moving toward zero harm must include automation. Joy’s latest shearer pitch steering technology offers access to fully automated cutting sequences, including gate end turnarounds and optimal drum positioning for highly efficient cycle times and consistency. This is available as an option for the MATS6.

Advanced automation tools, including Radio Motion Monitoring, Landmark, and REST Api, meanwhile, enable remote operation to help keep workers out of harm’s way.

NSW to help coal miners experiment with new explosives at underground test facility

Australia’s only independent underground mine explosives testing facility has opened on the New South Wales Central Coast, paving the way for improvements in mine safety and innovation in the mining industry.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro (pictured), launched the first round of explosive testing at the new facility at Freeman’s Waterhole, which will operate under the management of the Mine Safety Technology Centre within the NSW Resources Regulator.

Barilaro said the facility is made from high-grade steel and concrete with modifications to reduce sound impacts and provides an appropriate location to test the safety of explosives made within the state, for use in underground coal mining operations.

“This will be the only independent explosives testing facility of its kind in Australia, making New South Wales the nation’s leader in mine safety development,” he said.

“Currently, there are few explosives that can be used in underground coal mines and these kinds of explosives have a very short shelf life, they don’t travel well and need to be developed and tested locally.

“Under the control of the NSW Resources Regulator’s Mine Safety Technology Centre, this facility will be used to determine if locally made explosives are viable and meet vital safety requirements to protect the wellbeing of workers.”

Barilaro said when used safely, explosives can significantly improve the productivity of underground mines by reducing the number of time-consuming and labour-intensive longwall moves required to extract coal, increasing the overall volume of coal recovered.

“The industry benefits significantly from the use of explosives in underground mines and the facility launched today will allow greater testing, experimentation and innovation from local businesses that specialise in producing explosives for mines,” Barilaro said.

“The facility is also discreet; it has been built on the site of a quarry to reduce impact on the surrounding environment and computer modelling has been used to determine the most effective ways to reduce noise.”

Test rounds at the facility will be scheduled to meet the needs of industry, at up to two to three times per year, restricted to work hours on weekdays, the government said.

Mining3’s ‘Top of Coal’ tech heads for commercialisation with CR Digital pact

Mining3’s “Top of Coal” technology is heading for commercialisation after the company signed an agreement with CR Digital for the next phase of the innovation’s development.

The announcement comes on the back of promising new results delivered from the most recent trial in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, where the technology was tested over 12 weeks and collected downhole data from over 250-plus boreholes, the companies said.

“Accurately detecting the approaching top of a coal seam prior to blasting is fundamental to efficient coal recovery,” Mining3 and CR Digital said. “During the extraction stage, a significant percentage (up to 12%) of overall coal loss is attributable to blast damage and coal dilution, which then makes it difficult to separate the coal cleanly from the waste during both overburden excavation and coal processing. By eliminating the damage done to the top of seam, substantial increases in recovery are enabled.”

With support from ACARP, Mining3 has been developing a measurement while drilling (MWD) system that detects the top of a coal seam while routinely drilling blast holes.

During the drilling process, the detection system uses resistance measurements ahead of the drill bit to detect approaching coal in real time. This method of detecting “Top of Coal” brings significant benefits to surface mining operations, Mining3 says, including:

  • Providing a reliable indication of the approach to “Top of Coal” that will enable drilling to be stopped before touching coal or at a minimum standoff distance;
  • Increase production by reducing damage to coal from blasting; and
  • Strata recognition and mapping during routine blasthole drilling.

The system can also be retro fitted to a standard rotary air blast drill rig.

CR Digital, part of the global CR Group, is now working with Mining3 on the commercialisation of the technology, and the integration of the Top of Coal technology into its technology portfolio.

Together, CR Digital and Mining3 see potential for the technology to be an extension to the Thunderbird 1110 and StrataSense products within the CR Digital portfolio.

“Collectively, this agnostic range can be retrofitted to any rotary air blast drill rig and is intended to build on the StrataSense capability of CR Digital, to compile a three-dimensional understanding of the bench and coal seam in real time,” the companies said.

Komatsu Gunnedah expands on local coal mining demand

Komatsu Australia’s Gunnedah Branch in regional New South Wales has relocated to a new facility as it looks to cope with increased demand for its products from the local coal mining sector.

Komatsu Gunnedah had originally supported regional construction customers, yet, with the opening of coal mining north-west of Gunnedah and the sale of mining trucks, dozers and loaders, the requirements of the small branch rapidly increased, the company said.

For several months, the Gunnedah team had been looking for a suitable premise to support the increased demand and, on May 18, it moved into the new branch at 34 Allgayer Drive, Gunnedah, NSW 2380.

The new facility is “far beyond the ‘old branch’ in many ways”, Gunnedah Branch Manager, Peter Phillips, said.

“The office area is spacious as is the parts warehouse,” he said. “The parts warehouse is professionally laid out, including the mezzanine area set up for filter storage in racking.”

The workshop provides ample room to repair machines indoors and the yard access for transporting vehicles is substantial, according to the company. While the showroom is currently empty, moving forward, the branch plans to display construction machines for sale along with rental units in the dedicated space.

This move uplifts the profile of Komatsu Gunnedah in the region, according to Phillips.

“Our focus it to maintain this with our customers and promote Komatsu to be the place to visit as supplier of choice,” he said.

“To all from the branch who worked tirelessly with the move and in the Komatsu spirit, also the Mining Service Manager for support over the weekend of the move – thank you.”

Strata Worldwide’s MC2 certified for underground coal mine use

Strata Worldwide says its StrataConnect second-edition Miner Communicator (MC2) has won IECEx Intrinsically Safe approval, paving the way for it to be used in underground coal mines.

The StrataConnect MC2 (Part No SCT-MC2-03) is an underground personnel communication and location tracking device that operates on the StrataConnect™ wireless mesh network – formally known as Strata CommTrac. Released last year, the unit is designed specifically for harsh underground environments and provides personnel with two-way text communications, real-time location tracking, and both critical alert and response functions, the company says.

Communication messages include peer-to-peer or group texting and can be sent between units underground or to the user interface at the surface. Users have access to a full employee contact list and the ability to create personalised groups, while a full, hard-button QWERTY keyboard and large display screen facilitate fast and easy message reading and response, the company says.

“Miner location tracking is continuously active,” Strata said. “The units ping nearby communication nodes every 60 seconds for monitoring both location and direction of travel. Personnel can utilise the MC2 to locate fellow workers underground.”

The MC2, which is automatically functional on all StrataConnect wireless networks, is worn in a pouch on the user’s belt. Green LEDs on all four corners indicate the receipt of incoming messages, while red LEDs indicate an emergency notification. The device can also be used to send emergency alerts to dispatch if immediate assistance is needed.

Strata says battery life ranges between 24 and 48 hours, depending on use. Recharging takes around four hours, including the automatic update of contact lists which are done at this time.

CSIRO maps out laser scanning solution for underground coal mines

New real-time underground 3D mapping technology developed by CSIRO can be used to locate, steer and navigate equipment and vehicles in volatile, methane-rich underground environments, according to Australia’s national science agency.

ExScan technology, being trialled by Glencore, as well as five other mining companies, has a laser scanner and associated software capable of generating real time 3D maps of tunnels, walls and cavities underground where global positioning system (GPS) cannot penetrate. These maps can be used for locating, steering and navigating equipment and vehicles.

Arguably, the real innovation in CSIRO’s new underground mapping technology is not the smart laser-based scanner, but the container in which it sits, CSIRO said.

“The enclosure has been certified to International Electrotechnical Commission ‘Ex d’ standards for use in volatile, methane-rich underground environments such as coal mines,” the agency said.

“That means it has been designed to prevent the electronic equipment it houses sparking an explosion.”

CSIRO Electronic Engineer and ExScan Project Lead, Peter Reid, said: “Nothing can go underground in a coal mine unless it’s certified to be in that environment. You can’t even take an aluminium can; it’s a potential spark hazard if it gets crushed by a vehicle. So getting electronics down there is a tricky process.”

The problem is that explosive gases such as methane penetrate equipment and any failure of electronics that causes a spark could lead to a fiery disaster.

The solution outlined in the Ex d regulation is not to contain explosions, but to prevent them from happening in the first place. That’s achieved by designing the container to ensure any spark would have to travel such a long way to encounter sufficient gas to trigger an explosion and, by that time, it will have cooled below the ignition point, CSIRO said.

Looking to longwalls

Many members of CSIRO’s ExScan development team spent years working with industry on the Australian Coal Association Research Program-funded project that developed the successful LASC longwall automation system.

A major driver behind automating coal mining is to remove people from the dusty, hazardous environment near the coal face, but even the LASC automated equipment occasionally needed hands on human measurement to guide it through trickier parts of the coal seams.

The idea behind ExScan was to provide images that could be used to make those measurements automatically, CSIRO said.

“This technology provides us with information that cameras on their own can’t,” Reid said. “It allows us to measure in 3D anything we see, as if we were there.”

The LASC ExScan is a 3D scanner, housed in an explosion-proof casing, that can map tunnels, voids and cavities in real-time underground.

What emerged looks a little like a 25 cm-high version of Star Wars character R2-D2 – with a steel base into which a polycarbonate dome screws, CSIRO said. The laser sits under the transparent dome and scans through it. To get outside into a volume of gas, any spark generated would have to work its way through a narrow sawtooth path formed by the screw thread and, in doing so, would lose most of its energy.

Should the scanner malfunction or the container become scratched or damaged, it can be swapped over in a matter of minutes, because the dome just screws off, CSIRO explained.

The team invested a lot of time in computer modelling to come up with a dome that was just right for injection moulding. That makes the ExScan devices relatively inexpensive to manufacture, according to CSIRO.

“In fact, they are affordable enough for a line of 40 or 50 to sit behind the mining equipment along a longwall face of between 400 and 500 m in length, providing real time updates of the condition of the wall,” it said. “At 10 metres apart, the devices are close enough to allow redundancy – their scans overlap, which means that if one fails, its absence can be covered by others on either side to ensure overall reliability.”

Removing people from the coal face

According to Glencore Technology Superintendent at Oaky North mine, in central Queensland, Lauris Hemmings, the images they generate can be used to determine and sort out coal flow blockages on the conveyor system under the shearing equipment and to help align and steer the shearers themselves.

“It’s a fantastic tool,” Hemmings said, “an ever-evolving piece of equipment that takes risk management to even higher levels.”

The mine is already hoping ExScan can be used to navigate the higher risk areas of the mine, taking employees away from the coal face.

But the applications are broader. The scanners can be mounted in any orientation – even upside down – and on moving machinery and vehicles. This means they can be used to map whole mines, and potentially for vehicle navigation, CSIRO said.

The containers themselves can be employed for other electronic purposes, such as housing camera systems, and are already being marketed separately by Eaton Industries.

In addition to Glencore, the LASC ExScan system is being trialled by five other Australian mining companies, as well as by companies overseas.

“The Chinese coal industry has become so interested that it has invested the resources for a couple of engineers to develop skills to deal with the large amount of data generated by the scanners,” CSIRO said. “The feedback from all this activity is allowing the CSIRO team to develop new features for the scanner.”

CSIRO is now determining next steps to commercialise the ExScan system.

Sandvik adds to underground coal loading and haulage line with LS312

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has launched the Sandvik LS312, a new 12-tonne capacity, heavy-duty flameproof underground LHD.

The LHD’s engine, a C7.1 mechanical engine with Tier II emission standard, has been developed into a new certified diesel engine system, which targets minimal emissions, maintenance and total cost of ownership, Sandvik says.

The LS312 is designed to meet the latest major international safety standards, including electronic diesel engine safety shutdown systems and roll-over and falling objects protection fitted as standard on all units. Significant improvements have also been made to operator cabin ergonomics and visibility to assist the safe and comfortable operation of the vehicles, the company said.

“This new LHD utility vehicle with Sandvik quick detachment system (QDS) provides a safe and efficient solution to meet the challenges of underground coal loading and hauling applications and reduces personnel exposure to harmful diesel emissions through use of Tier II engine and integrated exhaust aftertreatment systems,” Sandvik said. “Reduced consumables and up to 20% diesel fuel savings, as well as 15% reduction in service time due to improved maintainability, contribute to lower operating costs.”

Used in conjunction with Sandvik’s 57 t hydraulic assist roof support trailer, the LHD can help relocate larger longwall equipment, as well as a range of other QDS attachments, according to Sandvik.

Sandvik is also offering customers the possibility to upgrade and rebuild existing LS190 LHD fleets with the new C7.1 mechanical engine. Integration into other models, such as the LS170, is also planned in the near future, it said. This can be completed in conjunction with a rebuild or as a standalone upgrade package performed in one of its Sandvik OEM workshops.

Zane Swingler, Product Manager Flameproof Load and Haul, Mechanical Cutting Division, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “Our new Sandvik LS312 flameproof underground loader is full of new innovations designed to improve safety, minimise emissions, increase productivity and lower your operating costs. We have combined feedback from customers and service personnel with our long history in underground coal LHDs to continually improve the product.”

CONSOL Energy wins NMA plaudits for safety initiatives

CONSOL Energy Inc has become the 10th mining company to be fully certified under the National Mining Association (NMA)’s CORESafety® initiative.

The certification, which aims for zero fatalities and a 50% reduction in rate of injuries within five years, is the culmination of a multi-step, multi-year process that requires dedication at every level of an organisation, according to Rich Nolan, NMA President and CEO.

“Safety is an area where complacency has no place and the CORESafety framework is an important tool to drive constant vigilance and awareness,” he said.

Jimmy Brock, President and CEO of CONSOL Energy, said it was a “tremendous” honour and testament to the work and dedication of its miners, to receive the certification.

“Safety is more than a core value at CONSOL Energy, it is a condition of employment and a way of life,” he said. “Reaching this milestone demonstrates our employees’ commitment to safety and our focus on continually integrating best-practices while embracing technology and innovation, as we strive towards an incident-free workplace.”

For over 10 years, CONSOL has operated under an “Absolute ZERO value system” based on the premise that having zero accidents is normal and that any accident is uncharacteristic and inconsistent with company values, according to the NMA.

Consol owns and operates the Pennsylvania Mining Complex and the Baltimore Marine Terminal, in addition to controlling over 1 billion tons (907 Mt) of undeveloped reserves, according to its website.

CORESafety’s approach to safety and health emphasises accident prevention and uses a risk-based management system anchored in leadership, management and assurance, the NMA says. The framework is designed to go beyond what is required by regulations, focusing on a goal of continuous improvement. Its objective is zero fatalities and a 50% reduction in mining’s injury rate within five years of implementation. In 2017, companies participating in the CORESafety system closed the year with zero fatalities across US operations.

CORESafety is a risk-based mine safety and health management system developed by NMA. The NMA said: “CORESafety participants agree to: commit to the CORESafety system; implement a functionally-equivalent version of the CORESafety safety and health management system; submit to NMA annual self-assessments of progress toward implementation of the CORESafety safety and health management system; and, if the company elects to become or maintain CORESafety certification, complete a thorough third-party assessment of its safety and health management system to verify that it is functionally equivalent to CORESafety and submit the assessment report to NMA.”

M&S Insurance and Safety Consultants Inc conducted the independent audit in September 2019.