Rapid roadway development
Roadway development rates in Australian underground coal mines are failing to keep pace with modern longwall systems and are unlikely to sustain further improvements in longwall productivity into the future unless step change improvements to roadway development equipment and practices are made. Bottlenecks which limit and constrain improved production and impact the safety of operators have been identified through a series of industry surveys, with the manual installation of strata support materials off the continuous miner being highlighted as a major barrier to improved development performance. This paper looks at research being carried out at the University of Wollongong which has designed an integrated system approach for the fully automated handling and installing of development consumables both on the continuous miner and outbye of the coal cutting operations. A series of hard automation manipulation devices have been demonstrated in a surface trial and the results indicate that rapid roadway development can be achieved.