Caterpillar is to supply a complete longwall mining system to the Moorlarben Coal Complex in the western coalfields of New South Wales, including roof support, shearer, armoured face conveyor and advanced automation control.
Moorlarben is operated by Moorlarben Coal Operations, a joint venture between Yancoal Australia and Korean companies, Kores Australia Moorlarben Coal and Sojitz Moorlarben Resources. Yancoal already operates Cat longwall mining systems at its Austar and Ashton coal mines in New South Wales and Goonyella mine in central Queensland.
The Moorlarben site includes an underground thermal coal development project, as well as an opencast mine that produces thermal coal for export.
The Cat longwall system will be supported by WesTrac, the Cat dealer in the region, and will include 148 Cat roof supports with operating height ranging from 1.9 to 3.8 m (6.2 to 12.5 ft) and with support capacity of 1,329 t (1,465 short t). A Cat EL3000 shearer with total installed power of 1875 kW will deliver production capacity in excess of 5000 tph (5512 short tph). Coal will be transported from the face with a Cat PF6 armored face conveyor, 302 m (910 ft) in length, including a beam stage loader and belt tailpiece, with total installed power of 2400 kW.
An advanced automation control package will manage shearer operation. This package features Longwall Navigator, which integrates software in the gate ends and shield controllers to improve production efficiency and accuracy, while minimising wear life, according to Caterpillar.
The control system incorporates algorithms that enable full 3D navigation, as well as advanced floor profile calculations and precision sensing technologies. This combination of technologies enables three features: horizon control, which guides the shearer over undulating seams; extraction control, which directs the machine to follow defined floor and roof profiles to optimize production; and face alignment, which keeps the face straight for consistent production with less wear of the conveyor system.
The complete system will be tested by WesTrac in New South Wales in early 2017. It is expected to be fully operational at the Moolarben mine in 4Q17.
Edited by Jonathan Rowland.