Publication Details

van Duin, S., Meers, L. & Gibson, G. (2013). Hard automation trends in Australian underground coal mines. 30th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction and Mining (pp. 150-159). International Association for Automation and Robotics in Contruction.


As productivity in coal extraction demands increase in underground coal mines, the industry is faced with finding new ways to support production without jeopardising safety. In modern mines the capacity and scale of longwall coal extraction has steadily increased to a point that support processes are failing to keep pace. In particular, roadway development is continually placed on the critical path of activities which maintain mine production, so any inefficiency in this area is quickly exposed. Original equipment manufacturers are under immense pressure to modify their machines to be more interconnected with each other, with machine communication and logistical sharing of space becoming a known requirement. This paper looks at the changing trends in mining practice, analysing available technology as well as currently emerging research into hard automation and discusses the need to integrate machinery and processes in order to see increases in productivity and safety.