Tag Archives: longwall mining

Glencore showcases automated longwall advancements at Oaky Creek

Glencore has highlighted the advances it has made in longwall automation at its Oaky Creek underground coal mine in Queensland, Australia, during a visit from the Federal Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt.

The minister met production crews and was given a demonstration of the mine’s automated longwall, the company says.

Using ‘ExScan’ laser technology developed by CSIRO’s Centre for Advanced Technologies, Oaky Creek has become the first coal mine in Australia to fully automate its underground longwall operation, according to the company.

ExScan technology (picture courtesy of CSIRO) has a laser scanner and associated software capable of generating real time 3D maps of tunnels, walls and cavities underground where global positioning systems cannot penetrate, CSIRO says. These maps can be used for locating, steering and navigating equipment and vehicles.

At Oaky Creek, an above-ground control centre operates the longwall using 3D scans of the mining area recorded by ExScan sensors and transmitted to the surface.

The minister also saw how Glencore’s coal business is leading the way on land rehabilitation and emission reduction, the company says.

To date, Oaky Creek has achieved 132.8 ha of certified rehabilitation and, in the last year, cut emissions by up to 840,000 t of CO2-e by using methane emissions for electricity generation.

“That is roughly equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions avoided from 182,683 passenger vehicles driven for one year,” it says.

Ian Cribb, Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s coal business in Australia, said: “Glencore has a world-class coal business in Australia and we welcomed the opportunity to show Minister Pitt some of the leading practices we have implemented, particularly around safety and gas management.”

Komatsu shifts longwall mining emphasis with powered roof support solutions change

Komatsu says it is adapting its longwall mining equipment business to best meet customer needs to reduce costs and maximise performance by announcing a plan to provide Joy engineered Powered Roof Support (PRS) solutions through partnerships with PRS manufacturers.

The company says it remains fully committed to supporting and serving the global longwall market by providing Joy engineered PRS solutions; designing bespoke roof supports; continuing to design and manufacture its Joy armoured face conveyors, shearers and longwall controls (including PRS controls); and providing project management, quality and integration services for longwall systems.

It also stressed there were no expected disruptions to existing order fulfilment as part of these changes.

“The company will continue to service and support all Joy longwall products including PRS through its global service network and will fully support existing customers for the lifetime of their operations,” it said.

Jason Savage, Senior Vice President Joy underground soft rock for Komatsu Mining Corp, explained: “As customers look to cut costs in the evolving coal market, we want to help provide flexibility while continuing to offer the core competencies we are known for in this space: Joy custom-engineered PRS solutions.

“We will continue to provide, and further develop, the design and technical support of engineered PRS solutions to help our customers mine efficiently and safely while enabling access to lower cost manufacturing sources to reduce up-front investment.”

There may be changes to the company’s manufacturing footprint following this shift, impacting Komatsu’s Manchester and Worcester facilities in the United Kingdom, but no immediate changes have been announced, with no further details available at this time, it said.

Savage concluded: “We are focused on working with our employees and our customers to make this transition as smooth as possible and empower the global mining market with the highest levels of longwall automation, remote operation, safety and productivity.”

Mechel’s Southern Kuzbass Coal Company launches new longwall

Mechel, one of Russia’s leading mining and steel companies, has launched a new longwall at the Southern Kuzbass Coal Company-owned V.I. Lenina underground mine in Russia.

Investment in the new longwall totalled around RUB470 million ($6.4 million), the company said.

The new longwall #0-16-10’s reserves are estimated at 435,000 t, with the average seam height coming in at 1.8 m. The longwall is nearly 200 m long with an extraction panel of 720 m.

The longwall is equipped with a 134-section powered support system, a cutter-loader, as well as a crusher, longwall conveyor and belt conveyor, Mechel said. All the longwall’s equipment is compliant with modern industrial and labour safety requirements, it added.

“V.I. Lenina Underground Mine’s reserves consist of coking coal with excellent quality characteristics, which is high in demand with coke producers,” Mechel Mining Management’s Chief Executive Officer, Igor Khafizov, said. “Southern Kuzbass Coal Company will be working this new longwall for eight months. The concentrate we will produce from its coal will be marketed both domestically and internationally.”

Yancoal’s Moult to talk up METS supplier relationships at Austmine 2021

The Austmine 2021: Harnessing Intelligence Mining Innovation Conference & Exhibition is set to open the stage to a host of high-calibre guest speakers, including Yancoal’s recently appointed CEO, David Moult.

Moult, who took on the role of CEO at Yancoal in March 2020 as COVID-19 entered Australia’s shores, has successfully navigated Yancoal through a tumultuous year, the event organisers said.

“Disruption is not new to the coal industry, though it was during the pandemic that the company’s innovation, resilience and ability to rapidly adapt came to the forefront,” they said.

Moult said the coal industry has been through many cycles for different reasons, which is what makes the industry competitive, entrepreneurial, responsive and resilient.

“Of course, no one could have anticipated the extent and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and the ramifications are far-reaching and ongoing,” Moult said. “At Yancoal, the way to survive the level of volatility the pandemic created was to be at the right end of the cost curve. Our portfolio of low-cost assets and a good workforce also gave our company the strength to survive, and it will continue to do so in the future.”

Despite a year of turmoil which has seen some companies fold, Yancoal is well positioned for ongoing growth, the event organisers said.

Moult said: “We will continue obtaining acquisitions – though with a focus on value not volume accretion. We will also expand and extend our existing projects – such as the Moolarben and Mount Thorley Warkworth mines where we’ve already identified additional production capacity.”

Yancoal’s values of Innovation, People, Safety, Integrity and Excellence, has been a standout in the heart of its people and business as the year has unfolded, Moult says.

“Whether it was working from home or installing thermal imaging to monitor worker health at mine sites, everyone worked together to implement work practices and measures to mitigate COVID related risks.

“It was through the ideas of our people that Yancoal was able to drive innovation, satisfy customers and create value for shareholders. It was a direct result of their work that we experienced minimal disruption to our operations and succeeded to meet our operational targets.

“With everyone’s efforts, by September we had achieved a reduction in our unit cost to A$60 ($46) a tonne and still made our financial targets. That’s an impressive result at a time when inflation was stagnant and some parts of the industry were at a standstill.”

Yancoal employs 4,000 workers across its 11 sites in regional areas across Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales.

“These regions are home to our employees, our suppliers and service providers, as well as their families and friends,” Moult said. “It is critical that these communities thrive and are provided every possible opportunity to reach their full potential.

“Our mandate of safety, security and wellbeing is not only about our people on site – it extends to their families and the communities in which they belong.”

Yancoal has invested A$1.6 million into 177 local initiatives in 2019 to support the local communities in which it operates, the event organisers said. It has continuously explored new ways of undertaking routine processes to improve efficiency and safety on the modern mine site.

“At our Moolarben Underground Mine, in New South Wales, we elevated levels of automation for longwall mining as well as established new continuous miner, coal clearance, pumping and conveyor systems. At Cameby Downs Mine in Queensland, we trialled the automation of dozer-push operations.”

Moult also attributes Yancoal’s success in 2020 to its relationships with mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) suppliers, and he has some advice for new suppliers entering the marketplace.

“Premium METS suppliers are collaborative, flexible and innovative,” Moult explains. “During the pandemic, our suppliers exhibited a ‘no surprises’ mindset. This approach allowed us to work together closely to address supply challenges as they arose.

“For new METS suppliers it’s a valuable learning to consider when talking to decision makers. Suppliers need to clearly set out their value proposition and how they offer efficiency and cost perspectives that practically align to how a company does business, whether that’s in procurement or in another area.”

Last year alone, Yancoal assets produced 52.1 Mt of saleable coal for international markets.

Moult said: “Coal is a vital part of a robust energy mix and essential for developing economies. While the percentage share of coal in the mix may lessen as new energy sources reach a maturity in the marketplace, the demand and volume of coal will remain strong across the globe.”

Moult will be speaking at the Austmine 2021: Harnessing Intelligence Mining Innovation Conference and Exhibition, which will take place from May 25-27, 2021, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, in Western Australia.

Held every two years, the Austmine Conference features more than 50 mining innovation and technology experts across a two-day conference program and interactive pre-conference workshops. The event includes a series of educational and networking opportunities, including a trade exhibition featuring live demonstrations, the collaborative Ideas Exchange, Meet the Miners and the Austmine Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards.

For more information visit: www.austmineconference.com.au

International Mining is a media sponsor of Austmine 2021

Anglo American commits to Aquila coal development with >A$240 million of contracts

Anglo American has invested more than A$240 million ($175 million) with suppliers for its 70%-owned Aquila metallurgical coal project in Central Queensland, Australia, which, the company says, will be one the world’s most technologically advanced underground mines.

Aquila will extend the life of Anglo American’s existing Capcoal underground operations near Middlemount by six years and continue to use the associated infrastructure at the Capcoal complex as its nearby Grasstree Mine approaches end of life, Anglo says.

Anglo American has awarded nearly A$200 million to six longwall equipment suppliers to deliver a “walk-on, walk-off system” using two complete longwalls, a A$20 million overland conveyor system and more than A$20 million in civil works, it said.

The project, which is scheduled for first longwall production of premium quality hard coking coal in early 2022, includes a A$5 million reverse osmosis water treatment system to increase the use of recycled water and reduce the reliance on fresh water at the mine – a key target in Anglo American’s Sustainable Mining Plan.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said: “Our Aquila project is progressing well, with support from its Queensland-based workforce and contracting partners. More than 90% of our Aquila contracts have been awarded to Queensland-based suppliers, and we currently have around 500 people working on the project in engineering, surface construction and underground development.

“Aquila will be a breakthrough project, designed to set a new standard of safety and performance by leveraging technology and focusing on operational improvements. The mine will showcase our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining, with a remote operating centre on the surface of the mine, proximity detection systems underground to alert machine operators to pedestrians, and the continued digitisation of our operations, using new technologies such as our Australian-first intrinsically safe underground electronic tablets.”

In addition to the aforementioned construction contacts, Anglo American awarded a A$95 million mining development contract to Mackay-based mining company, Mastermyne in 2019.

RPMGlobal expands UGCS software reach to longwall coal sector

RPMGlobal says it has yet again set a new benchmark in the mine planning software industry by introducing longwall support to its Underground Coal Solutions (UGCS) software product.

UGCS, RPMGlobal’s scheduling package purpose-built for underground coal operations, already supported other common mining methods, such as room and pillar. This latest release of UGCS introduces an enterprise, parametric mine scheduling solution specifically for longwall operations globally, it said.

“Parametric scheduling in mining was pioneered by RPMGlobal to automate the repetitive and time-consuming tasks that can often take a mine planner days, weeks or even months to perform,” RPMGlobal says.

Parametric scheduling allows a planner to rapidly generate multiple scenarios extremely quickly so they can investigate and refine the most attractive options, according to the company.

“The in-built intelligence in the UGCS solution does the heavy lifting, allowing engineers to focus on applying their skills to run different scenarios, deepen analysis and deliver more value,” the company said. “It provides the engineer with tools that help them to identify options that deliver value that would have otherwise been overlooked.”

RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mathews, expects UGCS to transform the scheduling of longwall operations.

“In other commodities and mining methods where XPAC Solutions are available, we have seen a step change in the planners’ mindset and capabilities,” he said. “Mine planners no longer need to be scripting experts and, with the workflow streamlining the process and Product Optimiser identifying optimum product paths, planners can focus on what they are trained to do.

“Where they once struggled against the clock to get a single schedule out on time, they now have the ability to assess several options and find the best one in a much quicker timeframe.”

UGCS builds on XPAC Solutions’ 40-year history and incorporates the introduction of a new interactive, mixed method scheduling approach that combines the flexibility of manual scheduling with the benefit of automated scheduling. The user can select whether to schedule manually or automatically in any combination and from any point of the schedule, RPMGlobal says.

This dynamic approach to scheduling allows users to provide high-level guidance in terms of where each major item of equipment should work, according to the company.

The automated features then work within this guidance, establishing the detailed tasks the equipment will perform, given ground conditions, the cutting height, the quantity of stone in the cutting profile and the impact of nearby equipment.

This approach allows users to focus on the bigger scheduling issues at play with the comfort of knowing the detail is not being overlooked, RPMGlobal says. “And because the schedule considers each individual continuous miner and longwall, UGCS provides an unparalleled level of confidence in the practicality of the mining sequences produced,” it added.

UGCS also allows far greater flexibility when changing and updating models. It generates working section composites from imported geological data that accounts for the capacity of the different equipment used at the mine, while accurately reflecting loss of coal and dilution from the roof, floor and partings.

Working sections are used to create a detailed 3D mathematical model of the project that can be updated when changes occur, while ensuring the adoption of practical assumptions, such as mining rate.

RPMGlobal’s industry leading Product Optimiser functionality is also available within UGCS. Product Optimiser determines the optimal way to blend, wash and stockpile coal products to maximise value from the mined coal. In addition to individual mining operations, it can also be applied to complexes with multiple mines which use shared processing facilities.

This latest release also allows a clear upgrade path for existing XPAC users in the longwall space, RPMGlobal says, bringing them in line with the advanced software developments using the latest technologies already incorporated across other commodities and mining methods.

Mathews concluded: “The advanced scheduling methodology, Product Optimiser and 3D capability contained within UGCS makes it a far superior solution compared to what is currently available on the market. No other tool offers the speed and accuracy with the same sophistication and flexibility as UGCS.”

Mastermyne outbye services contract extended at South32’s Illawarra coal mine

Mastermyne Group says it has won a short-term extension to its existing contract with South32 at the Illawarra metallurgical coal operation in New South Wales, Australia.

The execution of the new contract will see the ASX-listed contractor continue to provide outbye services at the operation, part of the Appin colliery, until June 30, 2020. This extension closely aligns Mastermyne’s outbye services with the roadway development contract also operating in parallel at the mine, it said.

The scope of the agreement provides for a range of services managing outbye processes and supplementary labour in the Appin colliery longwall area.

The contract extension, expected to generate revenue of around A$17 million ($11.6 million) over the seven-month period, also allows the company to use this time to finalise an Enterprise Agreement with its workforce, it said.

South32 completed two longwall moves in the June 2019 quarter and plans to produce 7 Mt of metallurgical coal in the year ending June 30, 2020. This is up from 6.6 Mt in the previous 12-month period. More longwall moves have been scheduled for the current quarter and the March 2020 quarter as South32 looks to support the operation’s return to a three longwall configuration from the June 2020 quarter.

Mastermyne CEO, Tony Caruso, said: “We have worked closely with South32 for some time now, and putting this extension in place means both organisations are able to plan and get set for the longer term requirements at the mine.

“The company has provided contracting services to the Illawarra metallurgical coal operations for over 15 years now and we look forward to assisting South32 with their next stage of underground growth at the Appin colliery.”

Peabody makes plans to restart longwall coal production at North Goonyella

Peabody says it is proceeding with the ventilation of the first segment of the North Goonyella coal mine in consultation with the Queensland Mine Inspectorate.

This is part of a comprehensive phased reventilation and re-entry plan, with longwall production expected in 2020, Peabody said.

“This marks an important first step in the next phase of activities aimed at resuming normal operations at North Goonyella,” Glenn Kellow, Peabody President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “As we move forward in the process, we appreciate the ongoing support of our many stakeholders including our employees, the union, customers, the inspectorate, neighbouring mines, the community of Moranbah and countless others.”

North Goonyella has been shut since early September when high gas levels were identified. A fire subsequently broke out at the mine later that month.