Technology and safety working hand-in-hand at IMC

TECHNOLOGY has enabled Illawarra Metallurgical Coal to introduce solutions that add even greater protections for its workforce and aid production, according to South32’s newly-appointed chief operating officer Jason Economides said.
Technology and safety working hand-in-hand at IMC Technology and safety working hand-in-hand at IMC Technology and safety working hand-in-hand at IMC Technology and safety working hand-in-hand at IMC Technology and safety working hand-in-hand at IMC

Electrical specialist Adam Gallagher underground at Illawarra Metallurgical Coal’s Dendrobium mine.

He told Australia's Mining Monthly that all the systems the company used were tailored specifically to its operations and some of the technology it had developed had put South32 and its Illawarra Metallurgical Coal subsidiary at the forefront of global longwall mining innovation.

"South32 Illawarra Metallurgical Coal is proud of its record of innovation," he said.

"Our achievements are testament to the hard work, skill and ingenuity of our workforce and we will continue to invest to ensure our mines operate safely and efficiently."

IMC's Dendrobium mine in New South Wales was one of the first mines in the world to use personal proximity detection devices in control mode.

PPDs work by using radio proximity tags attached to miners' belts, and are monitored and controlled through equipment software.

The devices emit audio-visual prompts if miners enter a potentially hazardous area, including locations close to automated equipment.

If the miner does not move away to a less hazardous area the software can prompt machinery to temporarily halt.

Over a four-year period the PPD system was developed with the original equipment manufacturer with the full operational rollout of the devices occurring at Dendrobium Mine in 2018.

Another key innovation at IMC's mines has been greater automation of longwall shearer through equipment software upgrades.

This has enabled its longwall shearer operators to work further away from the immediate mining area and, where required, away from the coal face, adding another layer of protection for the workers and reducing hazards such as dust exposure.

"Our additional automation of the longwall shearer machinery has included enhanced horizon control, which helps maintain a consistent mining horizon and has reduced variability in production rates," IMC said.

"This work spanned over 18 months, from initial analysis and identification to implementation and development with the OEM."

IMC has also implemented machine anti-collision technology between the longwall shearers and roof supports.

This also allows the workforce to operate at a greater distance.