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Conference Paper

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This conference paper was originally published as Barker, S & Kizil, M, System Management Approach to Improvements in Longwall Development, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2009: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2009, 96-102.


The requirement for continuous improvement in the coal industry to achieve the combination of lower costs, greater capital efficiency and higher production. Longwall panels are now being mined at a faster rate requiring a commensurate increase in development rates. Development operations that cannot deliver continuity of longwall mining result in substantial flow on costs for the entire mine – from higher unit costs, lower production and loss of reliable supplier status in the coal market. A development unit which can remain well ahead of the longwall as a result of an efficient system – machines; human resources; supply logistics and efficient planning and scheduling is a vital factor in delivering a productive longwall mine. While capital solutions are often used to increase production, they may not lead to improved profitability. Often, a more efficient approach is to generate improvements through better management of existing equipment. Through an analysis of the development delays at an Australian longwall mine, a number of potential areas for improvement have been identified. Increasing operating time is one aspect of increasing roadway development rates and the second is increasing the cutting rate. The time and motion study which was carried out at the same mine identified the bolting and “shuttle car away” components of the cycle as holding the most potential for improvement.

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