For one, it’s a new longwall. Two, it is Brazilian giant Vale's first foray into longwall mining in Australia. And third, and perhaps most significantly, it is the first complete longwall system contract Inbye Mining Services has won with its new partners, Polish original equipment manufacturer Kopex. It is also the first commercial installation of LASC (Landmark Automation Steering Committee) – the Landmark ACARP-backed automation technology CSIRO and industry has been working on for a number of years.
The $401 million Carborough Downs mine, owned by joint venture partners Vale (80%), Tata Steel, Nippon Steel and Posco (all 5%) and JFE Steel and JFE Shoji (2.5% each), plans to ramp up to 4.9 million tonnes per annum run-of-mine from the third quarter of 2009. The longwall equipment will be delivered to Carborough Downs in April next year. Before that, training on the mini-build will begin in February at Inbye's new workshop location in Mackay.
While Inbye Mining Systems is the main and controlling contractor for the Carborough Down's longwall system, several manufacturers will supply the equipment. Previously a junior manufacturer supplying coal clearance systems to Australia's longwalls, through a number of agreements, affiliations and working closely with other manufacturers, Inbye has built itself into an OEM that supplies the whole longwall package.
The pieces fell into place for Inbye mid 2007 when the company finalised its share structure, selling part of the business to Polish group Tagor/Kopex (50% equity stake) and the Nepean Group of Companies. For Inbye managing director Richard Eveleigh this was "clearly a necessity" to be able to take on the big contracts and have the financial backing to do so.
"This is something we have been working towards and the cards finally fell into place for us this year. It is the culmination of seven years of planning and strategic decision making," Eveleigh said.
"While we are extremely delighted with the contract, we are aware of the responsibility we hold. Accordingly we have restructured the company to focus on the Carborough Downs contract whilst maintaining the same level of service to our existing customers."
By joining Tiefenbach, Kopex and Inbye, it has also given the companies an opportunity to deliver to international markets the LASC automation platform – a target the team has been working on since last year.
"A primary goal of the team is to be the first LASC platform which remains faithful to the open architecture of the Landmark Information System (LIS), ensuring interconnectivity of equipment without communication protocol converters, a vital requirement in markets where single-sourcing of equipment is not so prevalent," Inbye highlighted in November last year.
LASC has been developed over the past few years at the likes of Beltana, Broadmeadow and Grasstree. The Carborough Downs installation, however, is the first time LASC has been purchased as part of a new commercial installation. The package for the mine includes the Shearer Position Monitoring System (SPMS), shield control Automated Face Alignment module (AFA) and the shearer control INS-based automated horizon control module (INS).
LASC will be fitted onto global shearer manufacturer Eickhoff's SL1000 series shearer – the first to be installed in Australia. The high-powered SL1000 series has previously found success in Shenhua's mines in China. The shearer has total power of 2190kW with 2 x 900kW cutting motors and top mounted hydraulic arms.
Teamed with the Eickhoff shearer will be Inbye's roof supports. The two leg shields, rated at 1238 tonnes, have structural design and hydraulic cylinders by Poland's Tagor SA. The electro-hydraulic control system will be provided by Tiefenbach Control Systems of Germany.
The supports include Tagor’s well proven but unique leg cylinder stainless steel-based Durachrom protective coating. For more than five years this system has demonstrated greater protection and durability than commonly used electroplated coatings, Inbye said.
Tagor has included in its specification for Carborough Downs many design features it has learnt about from experience in delivery of supports for thick and inclined seams, including double side-shields, base-pusher and double-articulated flipper.
The coal clearance system will be supplied by Inbye – the equipment arena in which its affiliation with Australia's longwall industry began.
The Carborough Downs armoured face conveyor is a 3000kW 48mm chain conveyor with 1100mm wide raceway and incorporates features specifically designed for high seam mining.
Inbye have designed a stageloader system powered by a 400kW transmission driving 38mm chain and flights in a 1350mm raceway. The new BSL design incorporates replaceable sigma profile sections, economically replaced at overhauls and increasing the overall life of the system, as well as providing improved carrying efficiency. The stageloader incorporates a 400kW high-impact crusher with replaceable impact elements and a Matilda-style longwall belt bootend controlled by Tiefenbach hydraulic valves. It has a rating of 4500tph.
The 300m-long AFC is driven by Series 65 gearboxes, with Voith soft start couplings and Morley Motors. The tailgate drive has fully automated tensioning system with Inbye unique “hydroslide” sprocket connection system.
Services handling to the face will be via a Macquarie Manufacturing's longwall monorail system incorporating a material management module.
With corporate ties to Inbye, MI Power has been contracted to supply the electrical system for the mine. All FLP enclosures offered will be designed with the option for rating at 1500kP for arc fault containment in accordance with Simtars' model.
MI Power will supply the transformer, longwall distribution and control box and longwall control and monitoring enclosure.
The lighting system will be supplied by Burn Brite, the gas monitoring system by Trolex/Austdac, the signal and control system by Austdac and the cabling by RCR.
The pump station will be supplied by Inoxihp Australia and includes 4 x Inoxihp PM330M high-pressure emulsion pump assemblies on one track-mounted chassis with emulsion hydraulic tank. A further two Inoxihp PM330M/150 dual pump assemblies (HP set and shearer water) are frame mounted and carried on the outbye monorail system for simplified retraction of services.