The Latest Innovations in Underground Mining Equipment
From Atlas Copco to Sandvik, JOY to Caterpillar we take a look at the greatest underground mining machines in the industry and speak to the engineers behind the scenes
The mining industry is overflowing with radical equipment. Companies like Caterpillar and Atlas Copco have launched some of the most technologically-advanced machinery in recent years and the pace isn’t slowing down. Equipment is becoming smarter, faster, and safer, helping mining companies improve productivity while keeping operating costs at a minimum.
We spoke with the industry’s leading equipment manufacturers and the engineers behind their newest inventions to find out what the mining industry can expect in the future.
Caterpillar Inc. is the grand-daddy of manufacturing excellence. The American corporation, which designs, manufactures, markets and sells machinery and engines for the construction and mining industry, is the king of innovation. The company produces some of the most respected and reliable equipment the mining industry has to offer.
The company’s newest invention – Cat R3000H Loader – is the latest in Caterpillar’s strive for excellence. The load-haul-dump machine (LHD) is the largest loader ever manufactured by Caterpillar.
The new Cat 3000H LHD provides an increase in truck loading capacity, enhanced digging and breakout performance, faster speeds on grade, a strengthened front frame, and an available Ventilation Reduction Package that will lower both machine and mine operating costs.
“We designed our LHD’s and underground trucks to contain a high level of standard content but also to be configurable to regional preferences,” says Joe Bontje, marketing manager of underground hard rock mining equipment for Caterpillar. “For example, some regions prefer enclosed operator cabs, while other regions prefer open cabs. High production mines generally prefer the largest equipment that will fit in their underground mine and all available options that can make their operators as efficient and comfortable as possible.”
The 3000H LHD’s Ventilation Reduction Package utilizes customized engine hardware and software to minimize diesel particulate matter. Key advantages include reduced diesel particulate matter, improved fuel economy, and fuel quality flexibility.
Caterpillar’s 3000H LHD is the latest and greatest in the company’s innovative line of mining vehicles for underground mines.
Atlas Copco is a world leader in sustainable productivity solutions. The Group develops products and services focused on productivity, energy efficiency, safety and ergonomics. Recently unveiled at the 2014 Euro Mine Expo, the company’s newest innovation is a game changer in terms of efficiency and comfort.
The Scooptram ST18 loader, designed to match Atlas Copco’s 60 ton capacity Minetruck MT6020, provides a unique bucket design which tests show gives considerably better muckpile penetration. The high performance, 18 metric ton capacity underground loader provides an array of unique features including an optimized bucket and boom design with computerized Atlas Copco Rig Control System that monitor, support and controls all aspects of the operation.
“The optimized bucket gives a faster loading cycle that means more tons per month,” says Ben Thompson, Product Manager at Atlas Copco. “It also offers great improvements for the operator, not least in terms of the extra legroom provided by the unique Atlas Copco Footbox.”
According to Thompson, good legroom should not be underestimated.
“Operators who hae tested the Scooptram ST18 cite the new Footbox as one of the reasons why the loader enables them to work longer shifts. Not only that, they confirm that the view from the cab is best-in-class, even when reversing, thanks to the loaders sloping bodywork and shorter frame structure.”
Sandvik Mining is one of the leading divisions of the Sandvik Group. The section is one of the leading global suppliers of equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining industry.
The company’s mining jumbos, which are designed to work in the toughest conditions, are leading the industry in safe underground operations while maintaining high productivity. The well designed structure and proven components are ideal for even the most challenging customer requirements.
Sandvik’s DD321 underground drill rig is a dual matching boom jumbo that features critical drilling capacity. The vehicle is engineered for protective access to all underground service functions and regular maintenance tasks are initated at ground level, without the need to open the housing. The DD321 allows fast scaled tunneling with speedy and precise drilling and drafting routine. With an enhanced regulating system, non-complex maintenance tasks, and protective canopy design, the DD321 by Sandvik is the preferred choice in underground mining jumbos.
Based in the United States, Joy Global is a manufacturer of surface and underground mining machinery. They offer some of the best custom engineered underground equipment in the mining industry. From room and pillar to longwall and entry development systems, Joy’s rugged and reliable equipment combines some of the industry’s latest innovation and developments into realities.
The company’s complete line of mobile roof bolters has changed the safety and efficiency of mining methods. Mobile bolting products range from pneumatic, single head cable bolters to automated, multi-head roof and rib bolters. Joy’s Quadbolters are leading the way in innovation.
The Joy quadbolters features four HFX bolting units with semi-automatic, wear resistant bolter that minimize maintenance and downtime. With a proven track system similar to the systems used by Joy continuous miners, the quadbolters provide excellent tractive effort, low ground pressure, and a robust base even in difficult floor conditions. To improve safety, the quadbolters are equipped with a temporary roof support system and protective canopy for its operators.
With the new innovations in underground mining equipment, the future is looking quite abundant for miners looking to maximize profits and productivity.
Coal India Secures First-Of-Its-Kind Digital Deal
Coal India Limited (CIL) has appointed Accenture Solutions to digitally transform seven of its open-cast mines as the company strives to improve performance and increase coal production. Accenture is due to lay down digitalisation groundwork until March 2022.
The deal aims to increase coal production by 100 million tonnes (MT) by the end of FY’23. Once the minimum quantity has been surpassed, an agreed sum will be paid to the consultant for every additional sum of coal produced. This success fee will only be paid on the procurement of the minimum assured quantity.
The move will see heavy earth moving machinery (HEMM) fitted with digital sensors to monitor performance efficiency at all levels. Additionally, modern data analytic techniques aim to increase mine productivity and project monitoring through functional system management and effective observation.
An Exciting Venture For Global Mining
CIL, which aims to provide energy security in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner, hopes the move will help transform the entire business of mining operations and ensure higher volumes of coal are acquired at a lower cost.
“This is a first of its kind initiative by the company utilising digitalisation to ramp up coal output,” CIL has said.
A Digital Step Towards Enhanced Performance
Digitalisation is expected to take place at open-cast mines in Kusmunda, Gevra, Dipka of Southern Eastern Coalfields (SECL), Migahi, Jayant, Dudhichua, and Khadia of Northern Coalfields (NCL). Nearly 32% (188 MT) of CIL’s 596 MT output in FY’21 was accounted for by the seven selected mines. However, this new deal is set to see a large increase following the subsequent digital changes due to be made.
“Learning from the outcome and success of this model, we may replicate it in our other large mines,” says CIL, optimistic about the future following the modernisation of their mining.
It is expected that the move will help address roadblocks and guarantee corrective measures are put into place, ensuring the company is able to move forward with its aim of increasing output whilst remaining sustainable and eco-friendly.